Europeans and Canadians agree: We don't want CETA

Joint Media Release
October 18, 2013

Brussels, Belgium and Ottawa, Canada – On both sides of the Atlantic, civil society groups as well as Members of the European Parliament (MEP) from the European United Left/ Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) group are calling for the immediate release of the text of the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

Today, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso will officially announce the conclusion of the agreement.

"If this deal is so important, shouldn't Canadians have the chance to accept or reject it?" said Maude Barlow, national chairperson of the Council of Canadians. "The people of Canada and Europe, not multinational corporations, should be the ones calling the shots."

German GUE/NGL MEP Helmut Scholz and Member of the European Parliament´s Committee on International Trade (INTA) said: "I reject the inclusion of an investor-to-state dispute settlement into CETA. The recent cases of corporate arbitration panel lawsuits in Canada should be a wake-up call for the EU. Our court systems should not be bypassed.Trade agreements have to be mutually beneficial for the people affected by them on both sides of the deal; this means firmly enshrining investors' obligations into the agreement, particularly when it comes to respect for provisions concerning trade unions and workers' rights, transparency and environmental protection."

"Canada is already facing nearly $2.5 billion worth of corporate lawsuits under an investment protection chapter in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Why would we want to expose our taxpayers to even more?" said Garry Neil, Executive Director of the Council of Canadians, speaking from Brussels where he is working to build an EU/Canada coalition to defeat the agreement. "Canadians could face challenges from big European pharmaceutical companies. Meanwhile, policies like the EU Fuel Quality Directive could also be challenged, forcing European governments to pay Canadian energy companies."

Paul Murphy, GUE/NGL MEP from Ireland and member of the International Trade Committee added: "Like all free trade negotiations conducted by the European Commission, CETA negotiations have been held in secret and have been driven by Canadian and European multinationals and agrobusiness that want market access and access to vital public services so they can profit at the expense of working class people. What we see here is a charter for further liberalisation which will undermine the standards and quality of our services and utilities. We can't give corporations the right to sue governments when social or environmental policies cut across their profiteering. I am sure there will be significant civil society opposition in Europe if the agreement gives private Canadian investors the right to file a legal action against public policies in Europe"

"We are eager to continue our close cooperation with the Council of Canadians and other interested stakeholders from Europe and Canada on these vital issues. The European Parliament will have to give consent to this agreement before it can fully enter into force. We will do our utmost to convince fellow MEPs to use their power in the interest of democracy and the environment and to vote against this deal," both Helmut Scholz and Paul Murphy concluded.

Notes to editors:
GUE/NGL is a confederal parliamentary group in the European Parliament with 35 Members of the European Parliament from 13 different EU Members States and 18 political parties.

Helmut Scholz is the GUE/NGL coordinator on the International Trade Committee and an elected representative from the Die Linke party in Germany.

Paul Murphy is a GUE/NGL member on the International Trade Committee and an elected representative from the Socialist Party in Ireland.

The Council of Canadians is a non-profit organisation advocating for fair trade, clean water, green energy and public health care.