If you care about the NHS, railways, schools, colleges and universities, food, water and air quality, regulating banks, pesticides, energy supplies, fracking and the greenhouse effect, then read on. CETA is a seismic shift in corporate power over democracy, and is due for Provisional Application in February. We can act now though.
Like TTIP, the main agenda is not really 'free trade', or 'jobs and growth'. There is plenty of low tariff trade between the EU and US / Canada already. Any magical claims to 'jobs and growth' are based on economic modelling that assumes immediate re-employment when a sector moves away from a country. A more realistic analysis, based on the UN's Global Policy model, predicts a loss of jobs and loss of government revenue (see the conclusions here).
There's a lot in common with TTIP :
- like TTIP, the real target is not 'tariff barriers to trade' , but 'behind-the-border' barriers to trade - which means governments ability to regulate and pass laws affecting profits.
- the ratchet clause will prevent any taking back public ownership and control of railways, NHS services, water supplies etc.
- CETA will give investors the right to 'early information' about the government's intentions, threatening to sue states, in private courts if necessary, for up to 20 years worth of profits. They will be able to do this even if they breach UK law, if a private judge thinks the government's response is 'excessive'. This is via so called Investor-Court-System, ICS. (ICS used to be called ISDS, but was rebranded ICS in September 2015 - states can now appeal a courts decision, but the text is basically unchanged - see here).
- all public services are most likely included unless they fall under the definition of 'services in exercise of government authority'. To do this, they must be BOTH (a) not in competition with other suppliers and (b) not on a commercial basis - the Commission has accepted that in practice, this might only mean legal services (prisons, judiciary, policing)
- the change to a more 'gung-ho' , 'risk based' approach to public health, rather than using the EUs precautionary, hazard-based approach. For example, lead is a known hazard, and is not used in cosmetics in the EU. In the US, however, its possible to use lead in lipstick, if there's a commercial reason to do so. So, it would only be when we can definitely prove that its the dose of lead in the lipstick that's actually causing the harm, and not all the other possible causes, that the lead in lipstick would be regarded as posing an unacceptable risk. Similarly for Monsanto's use of the carcinogenic glyphosphate pesticide, which is estimated to be present in 1 in 3 loaves of bread..
CETA could threaten environmental protection and worker’s rights. While trade unions, civil society organisations and even our MPs have been largely excluded from negotiations on CETA, big business has enjoyed significant influence throughout the process. If CETA passes the European parliament, it will be ‘provisionally implemented’, which means that even if the UK parliament votes against CETA, we’d still be part of the deal for at least 2 years. If the deal is fully approved, however, leaving the deal could take up to 20 years.
Provisional Application will happen just as we get swamped with news about Donald Trump. Brexit will not stop this vast takeover of UK parliamentary power (so much for 'taking back control').
Seb Dance firstname.lastname@example.org
Paul Brannen email@example.com
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