Barlow back in Europe to help defeat CETA

Barlow in Vienna, Nov. 2015

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow has arrived in Europe for an 11-day intervention to help strengthen opposition to the ratification of the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) among both the grassroots and elected political representatives.

Her itinerary includes:

  • April 12 – a lecture and discussion at the Warsaw School of Economics
  • April 14 – a keynote address at a conference in Vienna organized by the Austrian Trade Union Federation and others
  • April 18 – a panel discussion on CETA and TTIP in Berlin organized by the German Federation of Trade Unions and others
  • April 19-21 – meetings with Members of the European Parliament in Brussels
  • April 22 – a debate at the Slovenian national legislature in Ljubljana.

When at the European Parliament, Barlow, executive director Garry Neil and trade campaigner Sujata Dey are planning to meet with at least 10 MEPs from the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament (S&D) and the Confederal Group of the European United Left-Nordic Green Left (GUE-NGL).

Both parliamentary groupings are essential to defeating CETA. The S&Ds have 190-seats in the 751-seat European Parliament. While they have voiced concerns about CETA, the recent amendments to its investment protection provisions have some of them speaking more positively about the deal. The GUE-NGL have 52 seats, reject the investor-state dispute settlement provisions and are opposed to CETA.

At present, there are likely about 358 MEPs who would vote for the ratification of CETA in the European Parliament, about 150 MEPs who oppose the deal, and if we were to put the S&Ds in the undecided column, about 243 swing votes. If we can win those swing votes, we would have 393 votes against CETA versus 358 votes in favour.

The Council of Canadians has been opposing CETA since October 2008 when Canada and the EU released a joint study providing the rationale for the 'free trade' deal. The negotiations began in October 2009. It is now believed that the agreement will face a ratification vote in the European Parliament either in November-December of this year or in early 2017.

In Canada, both the Liberals and Conservatives firmly support the deal for a clear majority of 282 seats in the 338-seat House of Commons.

For updates on this tour, please check this campaign web-page and @MaudeBarlow on Twitter.