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Investor-state in CETA hits “shared competence” rule

Image from Occupy TPPA

EU Trade Insights reports that the Council of the European Union will not sign the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) if it is presented as an “EU-only” deal. They have asserted this because under the 2009 Lisbon Treaty, agreements with provisions related to investment protection are a “shared competence” between the European Union and its member states.

Last week, the Committee of Permanent Representatives said CETA is a “mixed nature” deal and needs to be signed and concluded as such. The European Commission argues though that the “issue of competence” should only be addressed once the negotiations are completed.

The Committee of Permanent Representatives is made up of the head or deputy head of mission from the 28 European Union member states. A key role it has is to prepare the agenda for the Council of the European Union meetings. The Council of the European Union represents the executive bodies of EU member states. Their primary purpose is to act as one of the two chambers of the EU’s legislative branch, the other chamber being the European Parliament. The European Commission is the executive body of the EU responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the EU treaties and day-to-day running of the EU.

There are indications of concern about the investor-state provision in France, Germany and the United Kingdom.

Earlier this month, Agence Europe reported, “France believes that a state to state dispute settlement mechanism is enough under the transatlantic trade and investment partnership (TTIP). …France ‘is not in favour’ of including in the agreement a settlement mechanism for disputes between the investor and state, as (French minister for trade Nicole) Bricq believes that a state to state dispute mechanism ‘is enough’. France is not alone on this issue – Germany is also ‘very reluctant’, Bricq says.”

Last month, the UK newspaper The Independent reported, “Britain’s freedom to tackle climate change, protect consumers or guarantee a publicly run NHS (National Health Service) could be jeopardised by a trade deal being negotiated between Europe and the US. MPs and pressure groups have warned. …An Early Day Motion in Parliament, signed by MPs from all parties, calls for the trade talks to be frozen until the issue is resolved.”

And Council of Canadians trade campaigner Stuart Trew has noted, “European MEP, labour, consumer and environmental group opposition to these investment rules in CETA and the TTIP has forced a public consultation out of the Commission, which should begin in March and wrap up by June. Two transatlantic civil society statements, one regarding CETA and the other the TTIP, signed by hundreds of organizations, ask that legislators on both sides of the Atlantic refuse to endorse the treaties until the extreme ISDS process has been taken out. The debate will almost certainly play out in upcoming European elections.”

This coming month, during the March 10-14 fourth round of TTIP negotiations, Council of Canadians executive director Garry Neil and Trew will be in Brussels to share our concerns about the investor-state provision in the Canada-EU free trade agreement with allies and Members of the European Parliament.