The Council of Canadians congratulates our European allies for collecting 1.5 million signatures of Europeans who want “the institutions of the European Union and its member states to stop the negotiations with the USA on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and not to ratify the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Canada.”
Despite the European Commission rejecting a formal European Citizens Initiative (ECI) on CETA and TTIP, this self-organised campaign has been highly successful. 934,226 people have signed the petition in Germany, as have 212,322 people in the United Kingdom, 79,375 people in France, and 57,154 in Austria. Other country totals can be found on an interactive map here.
Why was the request for a formal ECI rejected? The International Business Times reports, “The European Commission said in September  that because the negotiating process is not bound by EU law, it is thus not territorially applicable to ECIs. It is only once the negotiations are complete and the agreement is finalised that an ECI can begin.” In other words, as the EU Observer explains, “The EU executive ruled that the petition was inadmissible as a citizens’ initiative because it did not relate to law or policy that is already in force.”
European campaigners are challenging this decision by the European Commission (which leads the negotiations on ‘free trade’ agreements) at the European Court of Justice. They argue that the decision effectively prevents any future ECIs on international agreements. They also say an ECI is relevant because once CETA and TTIP have been signed and voted on it national parliaments and the European Parliament, and in force, there is no opportunity to alter the agreements at that point.
If you are a European citizen, we encourage you to sign the petition against TTIP and CETA here.
The campaign, spearheaded by nearly 300 organizations in Europe, will be collecting signatures until October. While the speculation varies, it is believed that CETA could go to ratification votes in European Union member state legislatures in early 2016 and at the European Parliament later that spring.
If you agree with our European allies, you can also take action in Canada. Let the Harper government, federal opposition parties and your provincial government know that you want to see a real debate on CETA before it’s signed. You can also contact your municipal councillors and ask them what they’re doing to ensure the demands of more than 50 municipalities to be left out of the deal are fully reflected in the final agreement. For more on our campaign to stop CETA, please click here.
Coalition takes citizens initiative on CETA to the European Court of Justice (November 2014 blog)
European Citizens Initiative to be launched against CETA and TTIP (July 2014 blog)