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EU-Canada Free Trade Agreement has serious flaws -Childers

Press Release

Wednesday 17 Sep 2014

Dublin MEP Nessa Childers criticised the outcome of the EU-Canada Free Trade Agreement negotiations as secretive and undemocratic. Speaking from Strasbourg, where Members of the European Parliament discussed the proposed EU-Canada Free Trade Agreement, Ms. Childers said the EU-Canada Free Trade Agreement is seriously flawed in terms of form and content.

The European Commission was mandated by the EU Member State governments to negotiate the ‘Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement’ (CETA) with Canada. The text was agreed in principle about a year ago, and finalised in August.

It now requires the consent of the European Parliament to be ratified.

Ms. Childers said: “This yet another free trade agreement concluded with the customary secrecy the imposed by the Commission. Public representatives and citizens alike were kept in the dark for years, while negotiations were conducted behind closed doors.”

“We all had to rely on leaked documents to have an idea of what was being prepared.

“I am extremely concerned with the inclusion of Investor-State Dispute Settlement provisions in this agreement.

“This basically gives grounds for big companies to haul national governments into private tribunals with extortionate claims for damages whenever government action, particularly legislation, goes against the interests protected in free trade agreements.”

“This will seriously constrain future action to protect fundamental rights, health and safety and environmental standards, in the public interest.

“Such matters are far too serious to be discussed, decided and locked in beyond the reach of public representatives.

“The new EU Commission President, Mr. Juncker, vowed, at a hearing in my political group, the Socialists and Democrats, to remove such provisions from another critical trade deal in the pipeline, currently under negotiation with the United States.

“He rightly said that the EU’s jurisdictions have properly functioning legal systems and that we don’t need parallel, private arbitration courts to protect particular interests.

“However, US companies could simply use its Canadian subsidiaries to mount such challenges through the backdoor. We must not allow this to happen.

“Its intellectual property provisions are also worrisome, trying to revive some bad ideas we rejected when Parliament defeated the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. Rather, we need to move in the opposite direction.”