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Barlow at massive Stop CETA & TTIP rally in Germany in lead-up to CETA ratification votes

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow is at a massive Stop CETA & TTIP protest in Stuttgart, Germany at this moment.

The protest comes just days in advance of Canadian trade minister Chrystia Freeland meeting with European Union member state trade ministers on Thursday (September 22) in Bratislava, Slovakia for further negotiations on the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

The CBC’s Janyce McGregor reports, “Freeland will head to a meeting of European trade ministers to negotiate a last-minute addition to the Canada-EU trade deal aimed at salvaging the pact. Faced with growing concern about the European Union’s ability to ratify the deal, Canada is collaborating on additional text to clarify its more controversial provisions. The potential annex to [CETA] would not constitute a reopening of the negotiations — something neither side wants to do. But vague language in the current text is allowing critics of the deal to paint it as a threat to the quality of public services and the ability of governments to regulate in areas like environmental or labour standards. The annex could offer legally binding clarifications to fix that.”

To ease the concerns of European governments, the Trudeau government is reportedly emphasizing Canada’s strong public sector and its investments in infrastructure, as well as promising to ratify an International Labour Organization convention on collective bargaining. And despite CETA’s investment protection provisions, Freeland has maintained countries would retain the right to regulate under the deal.

Freeland will also be in Vienna, Austria on Wednesday (September 21). As we noted in this campaign blog, Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern says he is opposed to CETA because it contains many of the same problems as the United States-European Union Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) now being negotiated. If Austria remains steadfast against CETA, then there is hope that the Council of the European Union (the EU trade ministers) will not have the unanimous support they need to move forward with the provisional application of CETA.

The news article adds, “If all this persuasion works and a consensus can be reached on the European Council moving ahead with the deal, Trudeau would head to Brussels for a summit and signing ceremony with EU leaders in late October. CETA would still need to be ratified by the European Parliament later this year or early next year. Then the bulk of the deal could be provisionally applied.”

That signing ceremony is currently scheduled for October 28-29, it is believed that the European Parliament International Trade Committee could vote on CETA on November 29, and that a plenary vote in the European Parliament could take place this December or in January 2017. If CETA is ratified by the European Parliament, then 90 per cent of the deal could be provisionally implemented (even before ratification votes in the legislatures of EU member states).

Beyond Barlow marching in today’s massive protest in Stuttgart, other actions by The Council of Canadians at this critical moment include:

  • On September 6, Barlow spoke against CETA at a forum organized by the Swedish social justice group Skiftet (Shift) in Stockholm.

  • On September 7, Barlow spoke at a sold-out conference inside the Christiansborg Palace (the seat of the Danish Parliament, the Prime Minister’s Office, and the Supreme Court) in Copenhagen.

  • On September 9, Barlow spoke at a Friends of the Earth Sweden organized event at Malmö University.

  • On September 20, we will jointly release with Corporate Europe Observatory, Friends of the Earth Europe, the European Public Services Union and other European civil society organizations a report titled ‘CETA – Trading Away Democracy’ that shows that the supposedly reformed investment chapter in CETA remains a substantial threat to European democratic decision-making.

  • October 12-16 – we have organized to have anti-globalization activist and Member of the European Parliament Jose Bove speak in Toronto, Montreal and St. John’s.

  • Our trade campaigner Sujata Dey will be at CETA Week workshops and actions in Brussels (October 17-21), the Citizens Summit: A Transatlantic Gathering of Local & Public Representatives at the European Parliament (October 20), and to-be-planned activities challenging the CETA signing ceremony (October 28-29).

  • November – Barlow will speak against CETA in Scotland.

  • November 28-December 10 – Dey may be speaking on a 7-country tour about our new report on the impacts of CETA on European food safety.

  • December/January – Blue Planet Project campaigner Meera Karunananthan will be collaborating on a report on the impacts of CETA on public water services.

The Council of Canadians first began challenging CETA in October 2008. Our first intervention at the European Parliament took place in July 2010 and over the years we have participated in at least a dozen different delegations to speak with European officials in opposition to this deal.