A coalition of trade unions, civil society groups and consumer organisations have slammed a TTIP-style free trade deal between the EU and Canada ahead of trade ministers meeting today about sealing the deal.
In a joint letter, published today, the groups say the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), empowers corporations and investors over workers and public services.
They said CETA’s rules on resolving disputes could see foreign investors sue governments for compensation over consumer protection laws, threatening those governments’ rights to make public policy.
The letter comes as trade ministers are meeting in Bratislava, Slovakia, today and tomorrow to discuss ratifying CETA.
Opposition to the deal has been growing, with more than three million people across Europe signing a petition against CETA and its twin deal TTIP.
Last week Canadian trade unions called on their government not to sign the agreement.
British unions are also against the deal.
The Trades Union Congress (TUC) wrote to Trade Secretary Liam Fox in July over CETA’s ‘threat to sovereignty, public services and labour standards’, and called on him to oppose it.
Today’s letter is signed by Friends of the Earth Europe, the European Consumers Organisation (BEUC), The European Trade Union Congress, the European Public Services Union, the European Anti-Poverty Network, the Health and Environment Alliance and the CEE Bankwatch Network.
Liina Carr, confederal secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation, said:
‘Under CETA, workers are second class citizens compared to investors. Labour and environmental protection is not enforceable under CETA, whereas investors are given a special legal procedure to enforce their rights. CETA will do nothing to promote quality jobs and decent pay, while presenting a threat to the delivery of high-quality public services.’
Fabian Flues, trade campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe, said:
‘The investment provisions in CETA grant unjustified privileges to foreign investors, threatening policy-making in the public interest. Investment protections has been used in the past to undermine environmental regulations and biased, unaccountable tribunals have cost European tax payers billions already. The investment chapter in CETA would massively expand these investor privileges and is reason alone to reject the agreement.’
Monique Goyens, director of the European Consumer Organisation BEUC, said:
‘Disappointingly, CETA fails the consumer crash test. CETA does not provide tangible benefits to consumers and contains provisions that could undermine current and future levels of consumer protection. For instance, CETA will allow foreign investors to sue governments and get compensation when governments pass a law to protect consumers better.’