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NEWS: European Commission report raises concerns about CETA

Embassy magazine reports that, “A comprehensive free trade agreement between Canada and the EU could lead to increased greenhouse gas emissions from the oil sands, changes to water management and consumption, and disruptions to First Nations’ way of life, according to a European Commission report.”

“The report, released at the end of August, is the first out of a three-part process of the Canada-EU trade sustainability impact assessment. It studies how the proposed Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement will impact not only the traditional economic pillars, but also the non-trade ones, such as the social, environmental and development dimensions in the 27-member bloc and its trading partner, as well as relevant third countries.”

TAR SANDS: “The report raises the spectre of increased European investment in the oil sands despite concerns within the bloc about their environmental impact. ‘Where the CETA contributes to greater extraction and investment in the tar sands, it is likely that Canada’s emissions of greenhouse gases will increase,’ notes the report.”

WATER PRIVATIZATION: “It also touches on the controversial topic of public markets, especially water utilities, which may be opened through the agreement. ‘Canada-EU trade could allow deeper penetration of EU-based water utilities in Canada,’ the report states. ‘This could lead to changes in water management and water consumption. Public control and management of water resources is a sensitive issue in Canada and it is likely that despite potential environmental benefits, stakeholder concerns will focus on public ownership and the risk of higher cost of water and its impact on low-income families.'”

“Stuart Trew, trade campaigner with the Council of Canadians, a civil society group that has been a vocal critic of the Canada-EU trade talks, said he is not sure how the impact assessment’s findings will affect the final deal. However, he said it is interesting that this initial report is already outlining some of the environmental and development impacts the pact might have. ‘When you have the European Union already recognizing that this is what trade agreements do,’ Mr. Trew said, ‘that’s quite remarkable and should have Canadians scratching their heads about the extent of the policy changes that the CETA will bring in Canada.’  But Mr. Trew said he is concerned that the assessment might not offer a deep enough picture. ‘I think that the environmental impact will be much higher than what [the impact assessment] will imply,’ he said.”

The fifth round of CETA negotiations are taking place in Ottawa the week of October 18 to 22. The Council of Canadians is planning a major demonstration against the proposed deal for Friday October 22 at 12 noon. More details to come.

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For more on the Council of Canadians campaign against CETA, please go to