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Barlow on 12-city tour in Europe against CETA starting Nov. 1

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow will launch a 12-city, 8-country speaking tour in Europe on November 1 to oppose the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), the United States-European Union Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provision.

This tour comes at a critical juncture.

The Council of Canadians began opposing CETA in October 2008 when a joint Canada-EU study first recommended a trade agreement should be pursued. Over the years we have intervened at various rounds of CETA talks. It is now believed that the translation of the final text could be completed in spring/ summer 2016 and that the ratification process could begin around that time. It is also believed that a European Court of Justice ruling on the “shared competence” of the EU-Singapore ‘free trade’ agreement could come as early as next month. This judgement is expected to set the precedent on whether CETA would need to be ratified by national parliaments in Europe in addition to the European Parliament.

As such, seven years into this campaign we believe we could be in the last year of our efforts to stop this deal.

On her speaking tour, Barlow will go to Dundee (Nov. 1), Manchester (Nov. 2), Leeds (Nov. 3), London (Nov. 5), Oxford (Nov. 6), Cardiff (Nov. 7), Dublin (Nov. 8), Madrid (Nov. 10-11), Barcelona (Nov. 12), Vienna (Nov. 16-17), Karlsruhe (Nov. 24-25) and Paris (Nov. 29). Council of Canadians executive director Garry Neil will also be speaking in Berlin (Nov. 10-11), Paris (Nov. 12-14) and Brussels (Nov. 17).

Our partners on this tour include Global Justice Now in the UK; Ecologistas en accion (Ecologists in Action) and the Stop TTIP coalition in Spain, ATTAC (the Association for the Taxation of financial Transactions and Aid to Citizens)n Eu in Austria, Campact in Germany, and ATTAC, Friends of the Earth, the Stop TAFTA coalition and AITEC (the International Association of Technicians, Experts and Researchers) in France.

Barlow has written a 15-page report titled Fighting TTIP, CETA and ISDS: Lessons from Canada for the tour.

Her paper asks the fundamental questions: What are CETA and TTIP? How do TTIP and CETA curtail the right of government to regulate? What is ISDS? What is Canada’s experience with ISDS under NAFTA? Why does CETA matter as much as TTIP? What about attempts to reform ISDS? How can we work across borders to defeat these deals?

In it she notes, “As a result of NAFTA, Canada is the most investor-state challenged country in the developed world and Canadians have an important story to share with Europeans as they grapple with these two trade agreements. This paper is offered as a warning to Europeans who care about the health of their people, the resilience of their communities, the fate of public services and the protection of their natural resources. …This report was written in an attempt to show Europeans why CETA is as important as TTIP and to help build the movement among Canadian, European and American activists and organizations fighting these pernicious trade and investment agreements.”

This report will be translated into German, French and Spanish with printed copies available at all stops on her tour.

Barlow will also be highlighting another report – An ISDS Carve-Out to Support Action on Climate Change – that argues a provision must be included in the COP 21 climate agreement this December that would protect governmental measures that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions from ISDS challenges.

There is significant opposition in Europe both at a governmental and public level to CETA, TTIP and ISDS.

The governments of Germany, France, Austria, Belgium, Hungary, Greece and Slovenia have expressed concerns about ISDS. It is also believed that Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden, Luxembourg and Italy have concerns about the ISDS provision. Based on an August 2014 analysis, we believe 341 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) would oppose the ratification of CETA along with the majority of the 52 non-attached members of the European Parliament. This would give a slight majority over the 358 MEPs likely to support CETA.

A critical part of this will be the degree to which EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström’s proposed replacement of the ISDS provision in TTIP with a European Investment Court System sways those votes. Our European allies have strongly rejected her proposed investment court as it still gives transnational corporations a privileged arbitration system. It is also notable that, as it stands now, while ISDS could be replaced in TTIP, the ISDS provision would remain the same in CETA. That’s an important message because, as we have argued alongside European allies, transnational corporations could easily work around any reform in TTIP by utilizing CETA.

Barlow’s tour will build on popular opposition to the evident opposition to CETA and TTIP in Europe.

On October 7, it was announced that the European Citizens’ Initiative to stop TTIP negotiations and the ratification of CETA reached 3,263,920 signatures. And on October 11, there were mobilizations in 138 cities around the world against CETA and TTIP. In Berlin alone, 250,000 people marched against the deals.

Following this tour, Barlow will return to Europe in early 2016, before the ratification votes begin in spring/ summer, to convince MEPs that Malmström’s reforms are insufficient and to vote against CETA.

For more on our campaign to derail the ratification of CETA, please click here.

Photo: Promotion for the tour in the United Kingdom. See large poster.