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Leaked documents reveal EU-Canada trade deal a ‘sham’

War on Want | 24 September 2014

Leaked documents reveal EU-Canada trade deal a ‘sham’

Official differences undermine claims of talks conclusion

Trade justice campaigners today branded any suggestion of a conclusion of EU-Canada trade negotiations a ’sham’ and a ’PR stunt’, as internal documents reveal outstanding disagreements between the European Commission and EU member states over controversial new powers for foreign investors.

The accusation comes as Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper prepares to host European Commission president José Manuel Barroso at a summit to announce the ’historic’ conclusion of the EU-Canada free trade pact (CETA), under negotiation since 2009.

Leaked records of internal EU discussions reveal continuing anger from EU member states at the Commission’s failure to protect national tax and banking reforms from legal challenge by foreign investors.

The EU’s legal advisers have confirmed that bank restructuring measures introduced in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis may be actionable under the EU-Canada trade deal. Supported by other European governments, Germany has stated that it will not agree to the current text.

EU member states have also criticised the European Commission’s inclusion of the controversial investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism in the treaty while a public consultation based on the EU-Canada text is still in play.

The Commission will not release the consultation results until November, and despite official protests has refused to open any debate on the issue. Only the UK government has consistently backed the Commission’s rejection of public concerns, according to the leaked meeting records.

Member states have also attacked the Commission’s attempt to deny national parliaments the right to scrutinise the EU-Canada trade deal when it comes to ratification in 2015. The Commission still argues that the treaty falls under exclusive EU competence, despite overwhelming agreement among European governments that it also requires national approval by each of the 28 member states.

John Hilary, executive director of British campaigns group War on Want, said: "The European Commission is using such anti-democratic methods to rush this deal through that even European governments have risen up in protest. Their desire to present the EU-Canada trade pact as a ’done deal’ is a sham, designed to see off mounting public anger. The active collusion of the UK government in such a PR stunt is entirely unacceptable."

Peter Fuchs, director of German NGO PowerShift, said: "The European Commission’s intransigent approach will only strengthen public campaigns against CETA and TTIP across Europe. The strong public opposition in Germany to these secretive corporate treaties is unprecedented. The new Commission has set itself up for a spectacular failure."

Scott Harris, trade campaigner at the Council of Canadians, said: "Stephen Harper has been trying to sell CETA as signed, sealed, and delivered since last October, but Canadians know that wasn’t true then, and it isn’t true now. This announcement of the conclusion of negotiations in the face of growing European and Canadian opposition isn’t fooling anyone on either side of the Atlantic. It’s PR in advance of next year’s federal election and nothing more."


A full leaked text of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada is available here.

CONTACT: War on Want media officer Paul Collins (+44) (0)20 7324 5054 or (+44) (0)7983 550728

 source: War on Want