Juergen Maier, the managing director with Forums Umwelt & Entwicklung (Forum for Environment and Development) warns about the investor-state provision in the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and the United States-European Union Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
In a blog posted on the Campact website, Maier writes (in German), "Gabriel Resources has announced in the Canadian press that it may sue the Romanian state for $4 billion in damages - almost 2% of Romania's gross domestic product. This is made possible by the bilateral investment protection agreements that Romania in the 1990s with many Western countries. ...With CETA and TTIP the Rosia Montana example could become commonplace."
As the Council of Canadians has noted previously, "Whitehorse-based Gabriel Resources is preparing an international arbitration case against the Romanian government because it rejected the proposed Rosia Montana gold and silver mine. This massive open-pit mine in the Carpathian mountains would use cyanide to mine about 314 tons of ton of gold and 1,500 tons of silver. It would involve destroying mountainsides, displacing about 2,000 villagers, and creating a 300-hectare toxic tailings pond. The company has previously threatened it may seek up to $4 billion 'for multiple breaches of investment treaties' if the mine were blocked."
Maier comments, "Absurd? As a matter of fact yes. But unfortunately it is reality. The EU Commission wants to introduce with the now negotiated but not yet ratified EU-Canada FTA called CETA such rights of action for Canadian investors of all kinds throughout the EU, eg for Canadian subsidiaries of U.S. corporations." He says, "Monsanto could face stricter patent or genetic engineering-laws and complain because of 'disappointed profit expectations'. Oil and gas companies might sue us if after drilling but no fracking for permission is granted. The French group Veolia Universal we know from the failed Berlin water supply privatization only after a referendum held the power went back into public hands. Veolia has Egypt sued for raising the minimum wage and won. The tobacco giant Philip Morris has sued Australia and Uruguay due to stricter tobacco laws and now announced that he would do this also with Great Britain, when the local plans for tougher tobacco laws are passed."
But CETA and TTIP can be stopped. Maier highlights, "CETA and TTIP must be ratified by the European Parliament and the parliaments of the EU Member States. Hence we now need the pressure especially on the federal government against such agreements. The federal government [in Germany] considers such a parallel system of justice in Free Trade Agreement 'not needed', but still wants to ratify it. We must not let that happen. Therefore, we now need a lot of public pressure, particularly on economics minister Sigmar Gabriel. A parallel justice for corporations is not in a democracy."
The Council of Canadians is opposed to the Rosia Montana mine, rejects the use of investor-state mechanisms in 'trade' agreements (whether that is the Canada-Romania FIPA, CETA or TTIP) that undermine the public interest, and expresses our solidarity and unity with all those opposing this destructive mine. For our numerous blogs about Rosia Montana, please click here.
For other possible investor-state challenges Europeans could face from Canadian investors (or US investors with offices in Canada), please see this November 2013 blog, Europeans face investor-state challenges with CETA.
On September 26, the Council of Canadians will join with Campact and other allies to protest CETA in Ottawa. For more details on that, please click here.