Nessa Childers, MEP for Dublin, deplored today’s vote by a majority of the European Parliament to consent to the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).
Ms. Childers had been raising longstanding concerns with the method and substance of the trade negotiations over the years.
Speaking from Strasbourg after this afternoon’s plenary vote, Ms. Childers said:
“CETA was the conservative brainchild of the Barroso Commission and ex-Canadian prime-minister Stephen Harper.
“There was no compelling reason to rubberstamp this legacy of theirs. Realistic economic modelling forecasts negligible benefits to our GDP at best, and the loss of thousands of European jobs at worse.
“Yet the risks to hard fought for health and environmental safety standards in Europe are many, as were the red lines crossed today, any of which would individually warrant a rejection from my viewpoint.
“For all the superficial changes made to render the Investor-State Dispute Settlement system more palatable, we are simply seeing the institutionalisation of an exclusive judicial channel that investors alone can invoke to sue, or threaten to sue, governments for compensation when they act in the public interest.
“The vibrant trade ties which we already enjoy across the Atlantic belie the need for a parallel Investment Court System to roll out the red-carpet, business-class arbitration court to big investors, as if our national and EU jurisdictions were some banana republic with kangaroo courts which frighten businessmen with the prospect of state-sponsored pillaging.
“Under World Trade Organisation rules, the government of Canada is second only to the United States in complaining against EU chemical safety rules and in challenging action on endocrine disrupting chemicals.
“Now we have just opened another legal front for private operators to join in and wage battle on public regulation.
“Tariffs to trade between our blocs are no longer an issue, and there are merits to coordinating the way we regulate markets so that we can trade and put our trust in each other’s’ products.
“But the way to do this is not through secretive negotiations between trade negotiators, resulting in thousands of pages of obscure provisions which our parliaments can only say yes or no to.
“Social rights, our health and the environment are not simply obstacles to trade to be chipped away in bilateral cooperation schemes.
“That a majority of my peers choose to tie their own mandate in such knots is beyond me.”