Leaked documents from the European Union suggest that the negotiations for the Canada and European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) are actually far from over.
Ottawa (24 Sept. 2014) — Trade justice campaigners are calling the suggestion of a conclusion of European Union (EU)-Canada trade negotiations a "sham" and a "PR stunt," reports the British organization, War on Want. It says leaked internal documents reveal outstanding disagreements between the European Commission and EU member states over controversial new powers for foreign investors. War on Want fights poverty in developing countries in partnership with people affected by globalization, campaigns for human rights and specifically against the root causes of global poverty, inequality and injustice.
The accusation comes as Prime Minister Harper prepares to host European Commission President José Manuel Barroso at a summit to announce the "historic" conclusion of the Canada and European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), under negotiation since 2009.
When a finished deal really isn't finished
"This is a familiar story. Last October, the federal government announced the negotiations for CETA had pretty much concluded and there was an agreement in principle. Of course, negotiations weren't at all completed, and in fact, there remained several outstanding issues," said Larry Brown, National Secretary-Treasurer of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE).
"So now the federal government tells us that they are planning to announce another 'final' agrement before we've ever been told what's actually in the deal. Once again, we hear from numerous European sources that it may not really be completed. When is our federal government going to up front and honest with us?" Brown asked.
EU member states growing angry with aspects of proposed agreement
Leaked records of internal EU discussions reveal continuing anger from EU member states at the Commission's failure to protect national tax and banking reforms from legal challenge by foreign investors.
The EU's legal advisers have confirmed that bank restructuring measures that were introduced in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis may be actionable under the EU-Canada trade deal. With other European governments supporting its decision, Germany has stated that it will not agree to the current text.
EU member states have also criticized the European Commission's inclusion of the controversial investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism in the treaty while a public consultation based on the EU-Canada text is still in play.
No role for democracy in process?
There is growing criticism on both sides of the Atlantic of the anti-democratic nature of the CETA negotations.
"During negotiations we were told that the process was secret and that Canadians couldn't see the text or have input into the agreement," said Brown. "Now they have what they claim is final text and we are told it is not open to discussion or debate. This is an outrageously undemocratic process for an agreement that will have wide-ranging consequences for all Canadians."
John Hilary, executive director of War on Want, said, "The European Commission is using such anti-democratic methods to rush this deal through that even European governments have risen up in protest. Their desire to present the EU-Canada trade pact as a 'done deal' is a sham, designed to see off mounting public anger. The active collusion of the UK government in such a PR stunt is entirely unacceptable."
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