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NEWS: European MEPs to raise concerns about tar sands in CETA report, April 13

The European Voice reports, “MEPs are expected to put renewed pressure on the European Commission to come up with EU fuel quality labelling rules that apply to oil derived from tar sands. The European Parliament’s international trade committee is expected to raise concerns about tar sands in a report on EU-Canada trade relations to be approved on Wednesday (13 April).”

“A draft of the report says that the Parliament is concerned “about the impact of the extraction of tar sands on the global environment” because of the high level of carbon dioxide emissions released and the threat posed to local biodiversity. The Commission, notably Karel De Gucht, the European commissioner for trade, is being blamed by MEPs for prevaricating on the inclusion of environmental rules in the EU’s fuel quality directive. These rules could label products derived from tar sands as more polluting than conventional fossil fuels.”

“Commission trade officials said they are worried that such labelling would result in legal challenges at the World Trade Organization and could affect talks on liberalising trade between the EU and Canada. …Catherine Bearder, a UK Liberal MEP, said the trade negotiations should ‘in no way affect the EU’s right to legislate as it sees fit in the fuel quality directive’.”

“Officials from the Green group said the committee and the Commission had faced heavy lobbying over the draft report from Canadian officials seeking to water down calls for the fuel quality directive to include a polluting value for tar sands.” This past March, Finnish Green MEP Satu Hassi said, “The government of Canada has been lobbying us (on the tar sands) in a manner that is not acceptable.”

Last Friday, an open letter calling on the Harper government to stop this inappropriate lobbying was sent by the Council of Canadians, the Climate Action Network Canada, Common Frontiers, the Indigenous Environmental Network, CUPE National, Greenpeace Canada, the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions, the Canadian Union of Public Employees – Ontario, the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition, Équiterre, the Yukon Federation of Labour, the Polaris Institute, and numerous other groups.

In January, the Council of Canadians was in Strasbourg, France to brief Members of the European Parliament on our concerns about CETA. At a meeting twenty-one representatives of the European Parliament’s trade committee, an uninvited Canadian embassy official turned up to challenge our comments related to the tar sands and Europe’s fuel quality directive. She denied that Canada had raised this issue in relation to CETA. We easily countered her assertions and were strongly supported by an MEP who raised objections to Canada’s role in killing the second binding phase of the Kyoto protocol at the United Nations climate negotiations this past December in Cancun.

The news article can be read at http://www.europeanvoice.com/article/imported/meps-challenge-commission-over-green-status-of-tar-sands/70754.aspx.