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Germany says it will not sign CETA with investor-state provision

EurActiv News reports, “Germany will not sign a trade pact between Canada and the European Union unless an investment protection clause allowing companies to take cross-border legal action against governments is scrapped, Germany’s economy minister said on Thursday (September 25). …Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and EU leaders are expected to announce an end to negotiations at an Ottawa summit on Friday (September 26), but final preparations are being hampered by a row over the pact’s ‘Investor-State Dispute Settlement’ chapter.”

Is CETA headed on a collision course between EU member state opposition to the investor-state provision and the European Commission’s insistence that the text is final?

It would appear so.

German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel says, “It is completely clear that we reject these investment protection agreements. …I am certain that the debate is not over by a long shot.”

But, “European Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht told a German paper the EU-Canada deal should not be renegotiated at this stage. ‘If the negotiations are reopened, the deal is dead’, he told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in an interview.” And earlier this week the Wall Street Journal reported, “EU officials say the negotiations are over, despite grumbling by member states. ‘We’re not going to change an iota of the text’, a senior commission official said. ‘If they want to shoot us down, then let them do that.'”

Today’s announcement by the German government follows various other reports about the Germany’s concerns about CETA including Germany set to reject CETA over investor-state provision (July 26, 2014) and Germany opposed to investor-state in TTIP, what about in CETA? (March 13, 2014).

There is also opposition to CETA being expressed in Austria, France, Belgium, Italy and Luxembourg as well as the European Parliament for us to build on.

The Council of Canadians is organizing a protest against the CETA ceremony to be held in Ottawa tomorrow with Harper and outgoing European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso.

Notably the EC president will be replaced in November by Jean-Claude Juncker. Juncker himself has expressed concerns about the need for investor-state provisions. He has commented, “I don’t understand why great democracies would not have faith in the judiciary. We have courts which are able to deal with cases that are brought to them, and so I’m not really in favour of what one could call ‘private courts’ or arbitration bodies which may sometimes reach good decisions but don’t always have to justify their decisions.”

Harper may want to celebrate CETA on Friday, but there are strong indications it may not survive the ratification process over the next two or more years.

Photo: Campact‘s investor-state gavel that will be present at the Sept. 26 protest in Ottawa.