CETA – Fighting The Good Fight

Last week in the European Parliament, as expected, CETA cleared another major hurdle, passed with a sizable majority.

CETA (Comprehensive Economic & Trade Agreement) is a proposed deal between Canada and the EU with the emphasis very much on ‘Comprehensive’. The brainchild of global corporations, it was driven by them from first to last, negotiated entirely behind closed doors where of course their interests are always best served, was presented as a fait accompli, signed, sealed and translated before most MEPs (never mind the EU public) had even the sketchiest idea of what it contained.

Its proponents use arguments like:

  • If we can’t agree a trade deal with Canada, the country closest in values to Europe, who CAN we agree a deal with?;
  • This is the most progressive trade deal ever negotiated;
  • EU standards and values – food production and quality, labour rights, environmental protection, etc etc – are all cast-iron guaranteed;
  • This will create massive jobs and growth all across the EU;
  • Lower prices for EU consumers.

Shallow and spurious, every one of those arguments.

  • This wasn’t the people of the EU agreeing a deal with the people of Canada, this was global corporations using their money and muscle to force through a deal that is foremost in THEIR interests;
  • ‘The most progressive trade deal ever’ is like saying lethal injection is the most humane method ever of delivering a death sentence – it’s lethal nevertheless;
  • If EU standards (and Canadian standards for that matter, when they are higher) are cast-iron guaranteed, why not insert a clause right at the beginning of the text stating starkly and simply – ‘Wherever there is a difference in standards, now or in the future, the higher standard will ALWAYS prevail’? The only cast-iron guarantee in this deal is for ‘investors’, who have ensured that they get their own special court above and beyond even the European Court of Justice in the EU or the Supreme Court in Canada, a court to which only they can resort, to sue governments local and national; and boy do they resort, EU corporations the most sue-happy of all;
  • Jobs? The European Parliament’s own Employment Committee did a comprehensive study which suggest that far from creating jobs, this will COST the EU. Studies and projections are one thing however – all those same great promises were made in the USA, Mexico and Canada in 1994 when NAFTA came into force but instead, it brought devastation to communities right across North America, and could be argued that it also brought us Donald Trump;
  • ‘Lower prices for ‘consumers’ – this is one of the biggest selling points of all but I think it’s time we began to join a few dots here. Yes we’re all consumers but directly or indirectly we’re also producers, and whether working in farm or factory, when prices are driven down so are wages; meanwhile retail profit goes up and up and the one group who DON’T suffer are the controllers of all this, the global corporations.

The war now moves to the home front. For CETA to come fully into effect it must be voted on and agreed in EVERY EU Member State. Right across Europe people are mobilising against this mega-mistake; I'm now calling on people do the same in Ireland.

Do your own research, stay away from the propaganda, the Irish government propaganda especially. For starters, ask yourself just this one question: currently, operating under EU and Canadian law, you have every type of investor imaginable; what kind of additional investor are we going to get that will operate here ONLY if they have a special court?

Europe, Press ReleasesPaul Cotter