The controversial CETA trade deal between Canada and the EU revives a mechanism which allows corporations to sue governments for passing regulations.
Despite seven years of massive grassroots mobilization and a petition with over 3.5 million signatures, the European Parliament voted to approve the highly controversial Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between the European Union and Canada.
Over 700 activists surrounded the EU parliament building in Strasbourg, France, forcing a delay of the vote as parliament members had to be escorted past those protesting a trade deal which revives the controversial investor-state dispute settlement process which allows corporations to sue governments for passing any regulation perceived to reduce profits.
It was this provision, among others, which helped galvanize the successful opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and almost scuttled the CETA deal itself when the small Belgian region of Wallonia stalled on approving the deal back in October.
The deal removes 99 percent of customs duties between the two parties, and forces both sides to “harmonize” health and environmental regulations, a move which many experts and activists fear will — in conjunction with the “investor” protection clauses — endanger any real hopes of addressing catastrophic climate change, among others human disasters.
“There is a legitimate fear that CETA will dilute environmental standards, food security, and health and labor protection,” said Alfred de Zayas, the United Nations independent expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, back in October.
He added that it was a “corporate-driven, fundamentally flawed treaty that strengthens the position of investors, transnational corporations, and monopolies at the expense of the public interest.”
Since negotiations on the deal began in 2009, labor, climate change, and farmer groups across Europe and Canada have mounted a massive campaign against the deal, with a recent petition gathering 3.5 million signatures.
While some had hoped that the demise of the TPP and the resistance mounted in Wallonia was shifting momentum away from massive corporate-driven trade deals like CETA, opponents of the deal say the fight will simply continue at the regional level.
While some aspects of the deal will be provisionally implemented as of March 1, full implementation of the deal will require the approval of each member state’s parliament.
Guy Taylor, a trade campaigner for Global Justice Now, told Sputnik that “We’ll have to see what happens but I think there’s every chance one of the major states could reject it and that would be curtains for CETA.”