In what may be another black eye for the Conservative government, there are reports that the German government may reject the proposed Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) over the inclusion of Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions.
Ottawa (28 July 2014 — The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is welcoming the news that the German government may reject the proposed trade agreement between Canada and the European Union (EU). It expects the decision will have wide ramifications for other international trade deals being negotiated and for the Harper government.
Germany uneasy with potential for corporate challenges under trade agreements
According to a report appearing on the news service Reuters, "Germany is to reject a multi-billion-dollar free trade deal between the European Union and Canada which is widely seen as a template for a bigger agreement with the United States, a leading German paper reported on Saturday. Citing diplomats in Brussels, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported that Berlin objects to clauses outlining the legal protection offered to firms investing in the 28-member bloc. Critics say they could allow investors to stop or reverse laws."
Implementation of CETA requires all 28 members of the EU sign the agreement. In addition, given that Germany is the EU's largest economy, it is unlikely for an agreement to be adopted without that economic powerhouse's acceptance.
The Reuters report notes, "The free trade treaty with Canada is a test for the agreement with the United States," according to a senior official in Brussels. It is likely that if the deal with Canada is rejected "then the one with the United States is also dead."
Rejection likely result of international alliances built
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) sees the cautious approach by Germany as partly a result of the numerous trips that Canadians have taken to Europe to meet with German and other EU Parliamentarians to raise concerns about CETA and ISDS provisions.
According to NUPGE National Secretary-Treasurer Larry Brown, “During meetings we have had with members of the Eurpopean Parliament and activists in the European Union (EU), we repeatedly heard concerns about the impact that CETA would have on the environment, public services, and the ability of states to effectively govern.”
Black eye for Conservative government?
If Germany's decision is to reject CETA it could be a major embarassment for the Conservative government. The negotiations for the CETA were largely an initiative of the Canadian government and have been a centrepiece of its economic platform.
Last October, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso signed a deal in principle, saying that they were leaving officials to work out the final details.
In Ottawa, a spokeswoman for Canadian Trade Minister Ed Fast simply said that Canada and the European Union were making “excellent progress” as they worked to complete the text.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE