Brussels, Ottawa and Quebec City – As European and Canadian trade officials meet again in Brussels today to continue negotiating an investment protection chapter in the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), transatlantic civil society groups are demanding that this chapter be removed entirely as an affront to democracy, an attack on the independent judiciary, and a threat to climate change and our shared environment.
The CETA “will include a controversial and unnecessary investment protection chapter and investor-to-state dispute settlement process (ISDS) that a growing number of countries are rejecting for good reasons,” says the transatlantic statement, which is endorsed by more than 80 organizations in the European Union, Canada and Quebec. “These excessive corporate protections, built into thousands of investment treaties and free trade agreements, serve no social or economic purpose other than to undermine our democratic rights to decide public policy and public interest regulation.”
The statement, which shows growing opposition in Europe to the Commission’s plans to negotiate investor “rights” chapters in trade agreements with Canada (CETA), the United States (TTIP) and Singapore, draws from global experience with investor-to-state dispute settlement. This includes in Canada, where recent NAFTA investor lawsuits have challenged a moratorium on shale gas exploration, and two court decisions on the utility of a pharmaceutical patents. EU member states are also feeling the sting of investor-state disputes, for example by Swedish energy company Vattenfall against Germany’s decision to phase out nuclear power.
“If the CETA is signed and ratified with ISDS intact, Canadian and European democracy will suffer while corporations gain new tools to frustrate any number of policies designed to protect the environment, public health, public services, resource conservation and, crucially, to make our social-economies more sustainable and equitable,” says the transatlantic statement, which other European, Canadian, Quebec and U.S. organizations are encouraged to endorse. “All political representatives at every level of government in the EU and Canada must call the investment negotiations in CETA to a hold and refuse to endorse the CETA until the extreme investor-state dispute settlement process has been taken out.”
The statement opposing investor-to-state dispute settlement is all the more important given the intention of the Commission to quickly conclude a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the United States.