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UPDATE: European Parliament’s trade committee voting on key CETA amendments today

Council of Canadians trade campaigner Stuart Trew reports that the European Parliament’s Committee on International Trade will be voting today on various amendments with respect to Canada-EU trade relations, including the ones noted below. Many of these amendments were brought forward by French Green MEP Yannick Jadot, who we met with at the European Parliament in Strasbourg this past January. According to the trade committee document for today’s meeting, they will vote on:

PROCUREMENT, PATENTS: (6a) Expects both parties in the CETA negotiations to abstain from demands conflicting with the partner’s domestic policy orientations or institutional prerogatives; is therefore concerned about the Commission’s demand for full inclusion of Canada’s provinces in procurement liberalization; calls on the Commission, as a sign of good will, to drop its challenges against the Ontario Green Energy Act’s requirements on local content and its demands for patent term extension and other changes to Canadian patent protection laws that would increase Canadian drug costs by reducing the availability of generic medicines;

NEGATIVE LIST, WATER SERVICES: (6b) Is opposed to Canada’s request – and its acceptance by the EU on 18 February 2011 – to negotiate on service liberalization by way of a negative-list approach, that is, all sectors are liberalized if not expressively exempted beforehand; calls on the Commission to exclude key public services from liberalization, in particular water distribution services, in order to not endanger present re-municipalisation processes in a number of EU member states;

INVESTOR STATE: (7) Regrets that the Commission proposed to the Council a draft on the modification of the negotiating directives for authorising the Commission to negotiate with Canada on investment without waiting for Parliament to adopt its position on the future EU investment policy in general and on investor-to-state arbitration in particular; remains unconvinced about the need for investor-to-state arbitration between two entities with such highly developed and well functioning judicial systems as is the case for the EU and Canada; calls on the Commission to ensure that the potential investor-to-state dispute settlement mechanism would not inhibit future legislation in sensitive policy areas and is embedded in requirements of transparency of proceedings…

INVESTOR STATE, GMOs: (7a) Draws the attention to different policies enacted by the EU and Canada regarding the regulation of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs); warns that the stricter regulations enacted in the EU could be challenged by private companies under the proposed dispute-settlement mechanism of CETA, even more so as CETA also foresees reinforced intellectual property rights on patented seeds;

TAR SANDS: (9) Reiterates its concern about the impact of the extraction of oil sand on the global environment due to the high level of CO2 emissions during its production process and the threat it poses for local biodiversity; expresses its belief that the CETA negotiations should not affect the EU’s right to legislate in the fuel quality directive nor inhibit the ability of the Canadian authorities to introduce future environmental standards on the extraction of oil sands;

SEAL HUNT: (10) Takes note of the recent legal developments regarding the EU’s ban on seal products, in particular Canada’s request to the WTO for the establishment of a formal dispute resolution panel; and expresses its strong hope that Canada will withdraw the WTO challenge, which is counter to positive trade relations, prior to the need for ratification of the CETA agreement by the European Parliament;

The full document of amendments is at http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//NONSGML+COMPARL+PE-462.546+01+DOC+PDF+V0//EN&language=EN.