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Updated CETA declaration shows contempt for EU citizens and parliaments - Greenpeace

11 October 2016
by greenpeace -- last modified 11 October 2016

An updated version of the EU and Canada's joint declaration on CETA fails to address fundamental problems with the trade deal, as the revision only concerns three minor changes, Greenpeace has said.


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Greenpeace has described the three updates to the joint declaration as merely cosmetic and the trade deal itself as unchanged and irreparable. The governments of Germany, Austria and Belgium, European Parliament trade committee chairman Bernd Lange and civil society organisations last week criticised the first version of the joint declaration and requested substantial changes.

Greenpeace EU legal strategist Andrea Carta said: "CETA is fundamentally dangerous for nature, our health and labour standards, and this updated declaration still does nothing to address that. These three superficial changes, to a declaration with no legal weight, show utter contempt for the European people and their representatives who have raised problems with CETA. This trade deal is irreparable and should be binned."

Greenpeace analysis of the three changes:

Inclusion of: "CETA does not privilege recourse to the investment court system set up by the agreement. Investors may choose instead to pursue available recourse in domestic courts."

The change does not address the fact that CETA gives a privilege to foreign investors to choose the Investment Court System (ICS), bypassing domestic courts – something private citizens or EU companies cannot do. Just because foreign investors may choose domestic courts, doesn't mean they must.

Inclusion of: "The European Union and its Member States and Canada have agreed to begin immediately further work on a code of conduct to further ensure the impartiality of the members of the Tribunals, on the method and level of their remuneration and the process for their selection. The common aim is to conclude the work by the entry into force of CETA."

A promise to begin work on a code of conduct is an admission that one does not exist yet. Also, breaches of the code of conduct do not lead to the annulment of a ruling by the ICS. In any case, to the extent that the ICS members will be allowed to carry out other professional activities in addition to their membership of the ICS, the risk of conflict of interest stays embedded in the system.

Change from: "Therefore, CETA represents an important and radical change in investment rules and dispute resolution that will offer a progressive path forward for future agreements around the world. It lays the basis for a multilateral effort to develop further this new approach to investment dispute resolution into a Multilateral Investment Court." to "Therefore, CETA represents an important and radical change in investment rules and dispute resolution."

The original text was of no legal relevance, and neither is the updated text. It perhaps shows a change of attitude among the Canadian and EU negotiators regarding the usefulness of CETA as a model for other agreements.

Timeline for CETA:

EU trade ministers will meet in Luxembourg on 18 October to decide whether to support CETA, in view of the joint declaration. If they do, representatives of the EU and Canada will symbolically sign the deal at a summit in Brussels on 27 and 28 October. The European Parliament will debate and vote on ratification in late 2016 or early 2017. After that, national parliaments of all EU countries will still have to ratify CETA.

If the European Parliament ratifies CETA, large parts of the agreement will 'provisionally' come into force, even before the national parliaments have had their say. The investment court system (ICS), a controversial arbitration system for investment disputes between multinationals and states, could largely be excluded from provisional application. This means that national parliaments may still reject ICS.

Greenpeace is an independent global campaigning organisation that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment and to promote peace. Greenpeace does not accept donations from governments, the EU, businesses or political parties.

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