Skip to content

NEWS: Canada repeats threat of WTO challenge against European Fuel Quality Directive

On September 20, 2011, the Wall Street Journal reported Canada’s chief CETA negotiator Steve Verheul saying, “If the EU proceeds with an approach that’s going to discriminate against oil sands, we would look to protect our interests, and that includes through international institutions like the WTO.”

That threat was again repeated on December 8, 2011. The CBC reports, “Canada has threatened the European Union with action at the World Trade Organization if the bloc’s plan to classify oilsands crude as more harmful to the environment than other fuels goes ahead. David Plunkett, the ambassador to the EU, wrote in a December letter to the bloc’s commissioner for climate action that ‘Canada will explore every avenue at its disposal to defend its interests, including at the World Trade Organization’.” The letter was made public by Friends of the Earth Europe.

European Union technical officials will vote on the directive on February 23. If there is a stalemate, the debate will go to EU ministers and the EU Commission. If passed, the implementation plan will then go to the European Parliament for a vote.

To counter the Harper government’s lobbying against the fuel quality directive, the Council of Canadians:

  • joined with allies to lobby European embassies in Ottawa encouraging them to support the fuel quality directive, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=13450
  • is asking Canadians to send a message to Members of the European Parliament to express support for the fuel quality directive, http://canadians.org/eu-fqd
  • supported ads about the tar sands in newspapers in the United Kingdom, France and the Netherlands (key countries that need to be swayed on this issue), http://canadians.org/blog/?p=12409
  • wrote to all MEPs asking them to ignore the Harper government’s lobbying against the fuel quality directive, http://canadians.org/media/documents/Letter-MEPs-CETA-tarsands-1011.pdf
  • commissioned a legal opinion by Steven Shrybman that says, “CETA negotiations (could be used) as a tool for constraining the ability of the EU to pass regulations or other domestic measures that would differentiate between products based on their carbon content,” http://canadians.org/blog/?p=4549
  • sent a letter to Harper government officials saying that Canada should stop lobbying the European Parliament and European Commission to weaken the fuel quality directive, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=6434.