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CETA could be a “casualty” in the European fight over TTIP

The Council of Canadians will continue to lobby MEPs to reject CETA.

The Council of Canadians will continue to lobby MEPs to reject CETA.

It appears increasingly likely that the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) could be a “casualty” in the European debate over the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provision in the United States-European Union Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

The European public affairs newspaper Politico reports, “A surprising casualty is emerging in the trade debate between the United States and European Union: Canada. Almost overnight, the pact struck between Ottawa and Brussels in September has been delayed to early 2016. There is little chance the deal … will take effect until 2017. What went wrong?”


The newspaper highlights, “The European Parliament is currently debating a draft resolution demanding major changes to the US agreement, formally known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Many members want to completely exclude ISDS from the American treaty, whereas some plead for major changes such as a court mechanism for dispute settlements, with the EU and US appointing independent judges, limited lawsuit possibilities and an appeal procedure. …[And] there are many members of parliament now posing one critical question: ‘Why should we ratify the Canadian trade pact, which includes an ‘outdated’ version of ISDS that no one wants to accept in the American deal?'”

Bernd Lange, chair of the Parliament’s committee on international trade, says, “It is clear to the Commission that if they put an agreement on the table that does not fulfill our demands on ISDS, then we will let it fail.”

The article highlights, “Negotiators at the Commission know the current Canadian pact will be a tough sell that probably won’t make it through the legislative process. That’s why [European commissioner for trade Cecilia] Malmström is now trying to use the ‘legal scrubbing’ to modify the agreement’s articles about ISDS at the last minute. Her spokesman, Daniel Rosario, expressed hope that some ‘fine tuning’ around investment dispute settlements ‘may be feasible’. … [But] the only way to bring such modifications into the agreement would be if Canada explicitly signs off on it.”

And so far the Harper government has refused to do so.

It is believed that European Union member states could begin voting on CETA in January 2016 and that the European Parliament could vote on it in April 2016.

Further reading
Merkel’s political imperatives spell trouble for CETA (February 2015 blog by Maude Barlow)
Majority of MEPs may oppose Canada-EU ‘trade’ deal (August 2014 blog)
191 MEPs threaten to vote down CETA in European Parliament (March 2015 blog)
Council of Canadians participates in International Day Against Free Trade Agreements (April 2015 blog)
Trading Away Democracy: How CETA’s investor protection rules threaten the public good in Canada and the EU (November 2014 report)