Nessa Childers, MEP for Dublin, deplored the refusal, by a majority of her colleagues, to refer the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) to the EU court.
Ms. Childers was one of the MEPs who, today, sought to send the text of the trade agreement to the EU court of justice, to check for CETA’s compatibility with European law.
CETA goes far beyond the usual scope of trade agreements, including an investment court allowing multinational companies to sue governments if national decisions impinge on their expected profits under the terms of the treaty.
It also focuses on the alignment of regulatory standards and subjects future law making on either side of the Atlantic to the continued facilitation of trade.
Speaking from Strasbourg, today, after the vote was held in the European Parliament, Ms. Childers said:
“Today, the majority of EU lawmakers chose to abdicate from their competences instead of putting the whole of CETA to the test of the court.
“EU trade policy has taken an all-encompassing turn when it comes to transatlantic relations.
“The idea is to get our bodies of law to stay out of the way of international trade, and to grant corporations an exclusive court to protect their profits.
“Even if you agree that markets should operate seamlessly in the western hemisphere, and you believe in the many unsubstantiated, starry-eyed forecasts of jobs and growth that will stem from these deals, the issues that arise are too serious to ignore.
“Do you believe a handful of trade negotiators behind closed doors, thrashing out opaque clauses which go on for thousands of pages should substitute themselves to the role of lawmakers?
“All we can do as European Parliamentarians, thanks to the Lisbon Treaty, is to say yea or nay to this huge regulatory takeover, which was negotiated in secret for years and where environmental, social or consumer protection criteria are mostly dealt with as a concession to trade.
“On top of that we, as European lawmakers, are wilfully stating that our legal systems are not good enough to protect the interests of international investors from the actions of our governments, and require an exclusive court for multinationals.
“This beggars belief, and disregards widespread concerns that go as far up as the German constitutional court.
“Dismissing serious civil society concerns as “anti-trade” will only serve to fuel even more suspicion of open borders. If we fail to learn from the electoral tide, we won’t stop the swell from the real enemies of international cooperation.”