Merkel addresses the Bundestag. Will coalition politics force her to reopen CETA?
The battle over the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provision in the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) continues in Germany.
In September 2014, German 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 last month he met with the French Secretary of State for Foreign Trade Matthias Fekl who says, “[I would] never allow private tribunals in the pay of multinational companies to dictate the policies of sovereign states, particularly in certain domains like health and the environment.”
On February 9, the day of German chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to Ottawa, Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow observed, “Merkel likely does not have an ideological problem with bestowing corporations with the hammer of the investor-state provision, but the political reality is that her Christian Democrats have 311 seats in the Bundestag and need the support of the 193 Social Democrats in that legislature to maintain her ‘grand coalition’ government.”
In the European news reports that followed Merkel’s visit, Tagesschau.de reported Merkel saying, “The changes that you can still make are very limited.'” And now the official website of The Federal Chancellor reporting on Merkel’s trip to Canada quotes her saying, “We are currently in the process of transposing the agreement into law, and there are still a few matters that must be clarified.” While this may not seem dramatic, it needs to be highlighted that the position of the Harper government is that CETA negotiations were completed in October 2013 and that it’s not possible to revisit the terms of that agreement.
And yet the pressure continues to be exerted on the Social Democrats, who, as noted above, are part of Merkel’s coalition government.
Campact flashmob action yesterday called on the Social Democrats to capsize TTIP and CETA.
Yesterday, our allies Campact organized a flashmob against CETA and the United States-European Union Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) at a Social Democratic Party rally in Hamburg featuring Gabriel and leading candidate Olaf Scholz. About 120 people took part in the action in which one side of a sign in the shape of a lifebuoy read “Save democracy!” and the other side read “Capsize TTIP and CETA!” Commenting on the action afterwards, Gabriel stated, “We will not do” the investor-state provision.
It is expected that CETA could face a ratification vote in the German Bundestag early next year.
While the matter is still before the European Court of Justice, Tiroler Tageszeitung Online has reported that Merkel believes CETA is a mixed agreement and therefore requires a debate and vote in all 28 national legislatures in the European Union.
The Council of Canadians plans to meet with German government officials this year to press them to reject ISDS and CETA.