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Despite EU legal opinion, CETA still in play

The ISDS petition courtesy of Stop TTIP CETA ItalyToday, there was a major opinion which impacts whether the Canada-European trade agreement, the Canadian European Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) is adopted in Europe. 

In a non-binding decision, the Advocate General of the European Court of Justice pronounced that the investor-state dispute settlement provisions in CETA are compatible with European law. The European Court is set to make their final decision in May.

As you may remember, Belgium, at the request of the Paul Magnette’s Wallonia government, asked the European Court of Justice to pronounce on whether the deal’s investor-state provisions (ISDS),  those that let corporations sue states over their policy decisions, were compatible with European Union law. 

If the ECJ rules against it, this would put much of the deal in jeopardy.  While it was signed and provisionally implemented last September, the deal still needs the ratification of all 38 states and regional parliaments, and the green-light from the ECJ.

In the meantime, for European social organizations, their verdict was clear.  In the last week, over 270,000 Europeans supported by more than 100 organizations signed a petition saying that ISDS was not compatible with democracy.

Alexandra Strickner of Attac Austria explains: “It is clear to us that special claims for corporations are not compatible with democracy, climate protection, and social and labour rights. As numerous cases show, they limit governments’ manoeuvre room to make urgently needed measures to protect the environment, workers and to reduce inequality. Our political fight against special claims for corporations continues. “

And apparently, even our Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland may agree with us. The newly negotiated Canada United States Mexico Agreement, not yet ratified, does not contain the clause between the U.S. and Canada. And she seemed to support that.

In her words, “It has cost Canadian taxpayers more than $300 million in penalties and legal fees. ISDS elevates the rights of corporations over those of sovereign governments. In removing it, we have strengthened our government’s right to regulate in the public interest, to protect public health and the environment.”

However, this doesn’t seem to be her stance in all of Canada’s other trade agreements.  So, the question is, why does she support ISDS in CETA?

In any case, ratification is still being challenged in many states.  Italy’s government said they would not only not ratify the agreement but would remove anyone from office who promoted the deal. 

To be continued….

The Stop ISDS petition: