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Council of Canadians at municipal conference in Barcelona opposed to CETA, TTIP & TiSA

Municipal representatives gathered in Barcelona passed a declaration opposing CETA, TTIP and TiSA.

Council of Canadians executive director Garry Neil recently attended the ‘Local Authorities and the New Generation of Free Trade Agreements’ conference in Barcelona, Spain.

EU Observer reports, “A network of European cities and regions [meeting in Barcelona] have called on the European Union to suspend current trade negotiations and to refrain from ratifying the recently finished EU-Canada trade agreement. …The EU trade negotiations that raised major concerns were the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the US, the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) between the EU and 22 countries around the world, and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the EU.”

Neil explains, “There are now close to 1800 local authorities throughout Europe which have declared themselves to be TTIP Free Zones. On April 21, the city of Barcelona convened a meeting attended by 40 representatives of these cities, towns and regions, and they were joined the following day by representatives of 53 civil society groups, including the Council of Canadians.”

He adds, “While there was some awareness and concern about CETA before the meeting, the issue gained far more prominence at the events. I spoke about TTIP and CETA, and the group agreed to convene one of its breakout sessions on how to defeat CETA. And fresh from a briefing by Maude Barlow in Brussels, Yannick Jadot (Green MEP, France), who is a member of the European Parliament’s Trade Committee, said at the conference that CETA must be defeated. ‘[CETA] is now and not in the future, it’s about corporate rights, and it’s a way for American corporations to get what they want from Europe by using their Canadian subsidiaries.'”

The declaration, endorsed by more than 40 mayors and municipal representatives, says, “We celebrate the social movement which has made this European debate possible and we want to give them due recognition for their role, and we invite them to continue their work.  For all these considerations, we demand that current negotiations on TTIP and TiSA be suspended and a new mandate renegotiated, taking into account the demands of those who have not been consulted, and we urge the European Parliament and national governments not to ratify CETA.”

It also notes, “We are deeply concerned that these treaties will put at risk our capacity to legislate and use public funds (including public procurement), severely damaging our task to aid people in basic issues such as: housing, health, environment, social services, education, local economic development or food safety. We are also alarmed about the fact that these pacts will jeopardize democratic principles by substantially reducing political scope and constraining public choices. The implementation of a range of measures will gravely impact on local democracy, such as the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) or International Court System (ICS).”

And the declaration highlights, “We must defend trade which is fair, sustainable, and which upholds labour rights.”

Neil notes, “The civil society meeting on April 22 agreed to a strategy for doing more to raise awareness of CETA.” Along with that, the next steps in the TTIP Free Zones Europe campaign include the city council of Grenoble, France possibly hosting a second pan-European meeting of local authorities concerned about ‘free trade’ agreements; local campaigns continuing to strengthen spaces of co-creation of municipal resistance to these treaties; building public awareness of the declaration; and a possible presentation of the declaration to the European Parliament.

Across Canada, 28 municipalities, including the City of Toronto, have passed resolutions seeking an exemption from CETA for local governments, while another 23 communities have expressed concern about CETA restrictions on local government powers. Together, these municipalities represent almost four million Canadians.

Despite this municipal opposition, the Trudeau government supports CETA. Trade minister Chrystia Freeland has even stated, “I think CETA will be really the gold standard of trade agreements.” Trudeau is expected to sign CETA at a Canada-EU summit that will take place on October 27 in Brussels. While the Liberal government can ratify CETA in the House of Commons with their majority (and the support of the Conservatives), there is significant opposition in the 751-member European Parliament and in many of the 28 EU member state legislatures that must also ratify the deal.

That process in Europe is expected to begin late this year or early in 2017.

For more on our campaign to stop CETA, please click here.