Barlow challenges CETA in Poland

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow spoke against the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) in Warsaw, Poland today to help build resistance to the 'free trade' deal.

In her address at the Warsaw School of Economics, Barlow highlighted the findings of her recent report Fighting TTIP, CETA and ISDS: Lessons from Canada.

That paper notes that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) introduced the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provision, in which corporations based in Canada, the United States and Mexico could sue those governments for public interest legislation that impacted their future profits. Barlow writes that similar 'investment protection' provisions exist in both CETA and the United States-European Union Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). As a result of NAFTA, Canada is now the most investor-state challenged country in the developed world.

Barlow says that Canada's experience is relevant to Poland for two reasons. She says, "The first is that we Canadians have lived with ISDS for twenty years. There have been more than 35 corporate ISDS challenges against Canada and we have already paid out over $200 million to American corporations. That's not the future we want for Poland. The other reason Poles should be concerned is that if CETA were to be ratified it could also act as a 'backdoor' for American corporations to sue their government over public interest legislation whether TTIP is adopted or not."

Barlow also met with Polish non-governmental organizations last night, and met with key journalists and an important Polish MP today.

Poland has 51 seats in the European Parliament. 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, about 243 swing votes. If we can win those swing votes, we would have 393 votes against CETA versus 358 votes in favour. That's a very close margin, so every vote counts - and public pressure is essential to winning those votes.

Barlow's next stops include:
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.

To read Barlow's report Fighting TTIP, CETA and ISDS: Lessons from Canada in Polish, please click here.