Hundreds of organisations, including Irish environmental groups, are calling on lawmakers to reject the EU Canada trade deal

Published by Ian Carey on

November 29th, 2016

Hundreds of organisations, including Irish environmental groups, are calling on lawmakers to reject the EU Canada trade deal.

Earlier this week a coalition of 455 civil society organisations published an open letter calling for MEPs to reject the deal which they say threatens our environmental regulations and workers rights.

The Environmental Pillar, a coalition of 28 Irish environmental NGOs, also joined the call for politicians to reject this trade deal.

The group want to  defend people and planet against the threats posed by the EU-Canada agreement, which still needs to be ratified by the European Parliament. Should EU parliamentarians give the trade deal the green light, ratification votes in EU member states would follow.
In an open letter sent to legislators, the groups express serious concerns about CETA, the ratification of which could weaken protections for workers and the environment, and provide foreign investors with extreme tools to attack public interest regulations.
The open letter highlights that:
  • CETA is no progressive trade deal but even more intrusive than the old free trade agenda designed by and for the world’s largest multinationals.
  • the deal features many worrying provisions that sideline the needs of people and planet.
  • there must be a paradigm shift towards a transparent and inclusive trade policy.
Trade unions, farmer associations, environmental and public health groups as well as human rights and digital rights organisations from both sides of the Atlantic are among the long list of signatories. Their firm rejection of CETA is exemplary for the growing opposition to the controversial agreement, which has also been criticised by legal scholars, small and medium-sized businesses, as well as a number of economists.
Spokesperson for the Environmental Pillar said:
“This trade deal contains a number of risks to Ireland’s environmental regulation and workers rights. It could have a serious chilling effect on the ability of Irish politicians to write laws which protect our environment, combat climate change, or protect workers rights.  We need to stop the race to the bottom on environmental regulation. We need to protect and preserve the environment and take the bold moves necessary to stop climate change for future generations. This trade deal will make that much more difficult so we are calling on Irish politicians to reject it.”
Trade campaigner Pia Eberhardt on behalf of signatory Corporate Europe Observatory said:
“Ratifying CETA would give corporations a carte blanche to push through their interests no matter what. CETA contains powerful tools for corporations to bully decision makers and sue for compensation if they introduce policies to protect people and the environment that may affect company profits. We would essentially see corporations hindering governments from doing the job for which they were elected.”
“In times of catastrophic climate change, rising social inequality and growing anger of those who no longer feel represented by politicians, more rights for corporations is the last thing we need.”
Larry Brown, President of the Canadian National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) who also signed the letter, added:
“We stand with European workers and members of civil society who are mobilizing against this corporate-driven trade deal, which will not benefit people. We will continue to fight the deal in Canada. We want our political leaders to move away from the failed model of past trade agreements and promote trade that benefits people and the environment.”
The General Secretary of the European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU), Jan Willem Goudriaan, another signatory of the letter, commented:
“Trade unions have provided ample input to the CETA negotiations in order to protect public services and strengthen labour rights. But despite last-minute concessions to clarify the possible interpretation of the agreement, our concerns are not addressed in the text. CETA has become a deal that is actually detrimental to the interests of people. We therefore urge Members of the European Parliament to stand up for citizens, public services and our democracy and vote against CETA.”
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Ian Carey

Ian is the editor of the Green News. He works as Communications Manger with the Irish Environmental Network.