Despite unprecedented public opposition, the European Parliament today approved the controversial EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). The vote comes despite the opposition of trade unions, environmentalists and a broad civil society coalition who called for a rejection of the deal in both Europe and Canada.
“Let’s not beat about the bush,” said Pia Eberhardt, of the Corporate Europe Observatory.
“CETA is a huge gift to big corporations, which gives them unprecedented powers. Corporate lobbyists will be popping champagne corks over today’s vote. But it’s a sad day for democracy and for the millions of Europeans and Canadians who have been demanding trade rules that benefit people and the environment.”
Campaigners have warned that CETA sets dangerous precedents as it contains new, far-reaching privileges that:
- empower foreign investors to sue governments;
- grant early and exclusive access to the legislative process for business lobbyists who want to lower protection in areas such as environmental policies and food standards; and,
- make it possible to lock in the privatisation of public services.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau celebrated the deal as enabling ‘trade that is free and fair’, and described the agreement as a ‘blueprint’ for international trade deals over the coming decades.
According to the Corporate Europe Observatory’s trade policy campaigner Lora Verheecke, “the mobilisation against CETA has been one of the strongest European democracy movements ever. But most EU parliamentarians today turned their back on this force and chose to approve the deal.”
“CETA will entrench the corporate-driven model of globalisation that is already choking our democracies by increasing social inequality, political exclusion, unemployment and people’s disempowerment.”