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Barlow in Vienna to challenge CETA

Barlow tells interviewer in Vienna that trade agreements reinforce austerity. Photo by Sujata Dey.

Barlow tells interviewer in Vienna that trade agreements reinforce austerity. Photo by Sujata Dey.

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow is in Vienna, Austria today to speak against the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

A Facebook event page highlights (in German), “Lecture in English with German translation! The Canadian Maude Barlow, winner of the Alternative Nobel Prize, will visit Vienna on November 16 and will report on the dangers of CETA and the Canadian resistance to it. She will describe the catastrophic consequences of – existing for 20 years – the North American Free Trade Agreement between the US, Canada and Mexico (NAFTA): hundreds of lawsuits or threats of legal action by companies against the Canadian government in the fields of environment, fracking and public services and loss of thousands of jobs.”

The public forum starts at 6:30 pm local time (12:30 pm ET) at VHS Ottakring, Ludo Hartmann Platz 7, 1160 Vienna, Austria.

In May 2015, the German-language newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung reported, “Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann (SPÖ) has practiced severe criticism of the planned free trade agreement CETA and TTIP. The planned special rights for groups he considered dangerous, he told the Süddeutsche Zeitung. Public courts and the rule of law would be undermined by private arbitration. The ready-negotiated agreement with Canada, he questioned. The results presented by the EU he was not satisfied, he continued, ‘Austria wants an agreement without ISDS’ (investor-state dispute settlement).”

In September 2014, the National Council (one of the two houses of the Austrian parliament) passed a resolution introduced by the SPÖ (Social Democratic Party) and the ÖVP (Austrian People’s Party) stating that CETA negotiations need to be continued even after the ‘signing’ summit that month in Ottawa, that there is no need for an investor-state clause in CETA, and that CETA is a mixed agreement and therefore the ratification process must involve all national parliaments. The Greens and the Neos (the New Austria Party) also oppose the investor-state dispute settlement provision in CETA.

In February 2013, Barlow was in Vienna to speak to the Federal Chamber of Labour on the right to water and sanitation.

It is important to continue to build opposition to CETA in Austria because the country has 18 seats in the European Parliament, which will likely vote on the ratification of CETA in late 2016 or early 2017. It is also expected that the Austrian Parliament – and all European Union member state national legislatures – will vote on the ratification of CETA. Over the past year, there has been a European Initiative against TTIP and CETA campaign. That petition calls on the institutions of the European Union and its member states not to ratify CETA and to stop negotiations on TTIP. That petition was signed by 145,453 people in Austria.

Further reading
Austrian chancellor calls for ISDS to be removed from CETA (May 15, 2015)
Austria’s National Assembly expresses concern about CETA (Sept. 25, 2014)
Barlow in Vienna to support the right to water and sanitation (Feb. 25, 2013)