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European Union jurisdictions expressing concern with the Canada-EU CETA

Brussels-Capital Region – In July 2016, the Parliament of the Brussels-Capital Region said it will not ratify CETA. The Brussels Times reported, “The parliament will not change its mind as long as several conditions remain unmet.” According to the news report, those conditions appear to include demands for: a human rights clause; a generic legally enforceable clause to guarantee compliance with the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions; a clause on using so-called “positive lists” in the sphere of liberalization of services (that would exclude general interest services); and social and environmental clauses within public procurement. The Parliament of the Brussels-Capital Region is the 89-member governing body of the Brussels-Capital Region, one of the three regions of Belgium. The other two regions are the Flemish Region or Flanders, and the Walloon Region or Wallonia.

Slovenia – In May 2016, the Slovenian Press Agency (STA) reported that Minister of Economic Development and Technology Zdravko Počivalšek rejects the inclusion of the Investment Court System (ICS) in CETA. This follows the June 2015 Government of Slovenia media release that stated, “Slovenia has substantive, general and scrutiny reservations concerning individual elements proposed by the European Commission as possible methods for reforming the EU’s investment policy and the investment chapter in [TTIP]. …In Slovenia’s view, the [European Commission document that includes a reflection on investment policy and on the establishment of a permanent international investment court] does not significantly upgrade the existing system for protecting investments and raises several questions.”

Bremen, North Rhine-Westphalia and Rheinland Pfalz – In May 2016, the Greens in the federal states of Bremen, North Rhine-Westphalia and Rheinland Pfalz declared their intention that their Länder (federal states) will not agree to CETA in the German Bundesrat (federal council). The Bundesrat represents the sixteen Länder at the national level. It works alongside the Bundestag (federal assembly) on laws affecting state competencies. The Greens are also participating in coalitions in the federal states of Hamburg, Hesse, Lower Saxony, as well as Saxony-Anhalt, Schleswig-Holstein and Thuringia. The ratification of CETA would require an absolute majority in the 69-seat Bundesrat

Bulgaria – In May 2016, EurActiv reported, “Bulgaria and Romania will find it very difficult to ratify the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada because of the refusal by Ottawa to lift the visa requirement for their nationals, and have proposed the accord be postponed. Bulgaria has joined Romania, who first indicated that it would veto CETA – expressing disappointment that Ottawa had not delivered on its promise to solve the visa waiver issue – in an effort to put pressure both on Ottawa and the Commission and the EU member states.”

Wallonia – In April 2016, the Parliament of Wallonia passed a resolution opposing the ratification of the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). The resolution calls on the Walloon Government “not to grant full powers to the Federal Government for signing the CETA between the European Union and Canada”. Paul Magnette, the Minister-President of Wallonia, is with the Socialist Party. He says, “As long as we do not have all the guarantees (of the future dispute settlement body and other red lines laid down by the Walloon Parliament), it will not be possible for us to ratify such a text, and it is not possible to give full powers to the Minister of Foreign Affairs” to sign CETA.

Romania – In April 2016, Euractiv reported, “Romania will not ratify [CETA], as an angry reaction to the refusal by Ottawa to lift the visa requirement of its nationals, but also for the lack of EU solidarity for solving the issue. The Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has published a position regarding Canada maintaining the visa requirement for Romanian citizens, expressing disappointment that Ottawa had not delivered on its promise to solve the issue, contained in the Statement of the 2014 EU-Canada summit. Canada has a visa-free regime with all EU countries except Romania and Bulgaria.”

French Community of Belgium – In September 2015, Rudy Demotte, the Minister-President of the French Community of Belgium, said he doesn’t want CETA signed as is. He says, “We are studying this with the government with all the ways and means so that CETA is not signed in its current state.” The Community has its own 94-seat parliament, government (headed by Demotte) and administration. The French Community of Belgium represents 4.5 million people, the majority of whom live in the Walloon Region of the country. Demotte is a member of the Socialist Party.

Hungary – In May 2015, the Hungarian-language news service BruxInfo reported, “[The Hungarian Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade] István Mikola says there is a political consensus that the Hungarian parliament for the time being won’t ratify the Canada-EU agreement (which has not yet reached this stage of the process anyway) because it cannot accept the investor-state mechanism included in the agreement.” The article focuses more on the United States-EU Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) which Mikola confirms the Hungarian government will not support because of the investor-state dispute settlement provision.

France – In February 2015, the Senate voted in favour of a resolution calling for the abandonment of ISDS in CETA if substantial changes cannot be negotiated. This followed a November 2014 vote in which the National Assembly adopted a resolution that states it “opposes any mechanism for arbitration of disputes between states and investors and therefore requests the substantial revision of Chapters 10 and 33 on the protection of investments.” Chapter 10 is CETA’s investment chapter, which includes the investor-state dispute settlement mechanism, while Chapter 33 outlines CETA’s dispute resolution process. That same month, the Senate also adopted a resolution stating, “it would be better to abandon the section on investment protection in the global agreement negotiated with Canada” in favour of a state-to-state dispute resolution process.

Germany – In September 2014, Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel stated, “It is completely clear that we reject these investment protection agreements. …I am certain that the debate is not over by a long shot.” And in March 2014, Secretary of State for the Ministry of Economy Brigitte Zypries said, “From the perspective of the federal government, the US investors from the EU offer sufficient legal protection in their national courts. We are committed to ensuring that the arbitration proceedings are not included in [TTIP].” Both Gabriel and Zypries are Social Democratic Party ministers in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition government.

Austria – 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.

Greece – In December 2013, Syriza MP Thanassis Petrakos stated that, “A Syriza-led government will veto the agreement [CETA].” While this statement was made prior to Syriza forming government in January 2015, the Deputy Minister for Administrative Reform George Katrougalos has also stated, “I can assure you that a Parliament where Syriza holds the majority will never ratify the [TTIP] deal. And this will be a big gift not only to the Greek people but to all the European people.” Syriza currently holds 144 seats in the 300 seat Greek parliament. It has formed a coalition government with the Independent Greeks (ANEL).