The rush to oppose TTIP – and what it means for CETA

1 September 2016 - 11:00am
War on Want in the news

Mark Dearn, Senior Trade Campaigner, War on Want. A version of this article was first carried by politics.co.uk

In the beginning, it was a small clutch of dedicated activists joined by trade unions and a (very) small group of charities who raised the red flag in the UK against the now hated EU-US trade deal, TTIP.

Fast-forward a couple of years, through leaks of TTIP chapters, exposés by journalists and huge protests,  and the states of Europe are seemingly falling over themselves to reject this deal. One by one, we have seen Germany, France and now Austria condemn the deal and any chance of its success.

But what explains this apparent about-face from politicians who were previously all too keen to label TTIP’s opponents as ‘anti-trade’, ‘anti-US’ or even more simply, as peddling ‘myths’.

People power has played a crucial part. The domestic politics of France, Germany and Austria – all due to have elections in the very near future - are also critical. But the fate of another secretly negotiated and dangerous trade deal, Canadian TTIP ‘CETA’ is also a key factor.

The European Commission’s director-general for trade recently spoke tellingly on how the EU bloc views CETA: if CETA is not passed, the EU’s trade policy will be “close to death”. Indeed, for the champions of an avowedly neoliberal and consistently secret trade agenda, CETA has now become the rallying point.

CETA is the Canadian TTIP. Much like its evil twin deal, it champions the destruction of rules designed to protect society and the environment – as laid out by a new report which highlights the huge differences in food safety rules between the EU and Canada, which big business wants to level down to the lowest common denominator.

And just like TTIP, CETA is also designed to prevent the renationalisation of public services, at a time when more and more people are beginning to recognise the myths of privatisation from its repeated failures.

And, perhaps most worryingly, CETA also includes a cosmetically rebranded version of ISDS ‘corporate courts’ which while looking palatable contains the same fundamental dangers: the destruction of the law as we know it, in order to create a one-way justice system for big business to sue states for lost profits.

The corporate court rebrand was only cooked up as a reaction to the highest ever response to a European Commission consultation, which showed 97% of people wanted ‘corporate courts’ scrapped.

In the words of UN Independent Expert Alfred de Zayas: “ISDS cannot be reformed. It must be abolished.”

And for the UK there is a particularly cruel sting in CETA’s corporate court tail. The UK could still be sued under CETA’s corporate courts for up to 20 years after Brexit, destroying parliamentary sovereignty in one fell swoop, a startlingly unreported fact.

Even worse, under CETA’s terms, a US corporation operating in Europe which also has a subsidiary in Canada can access CETA’s corporate courts.

And that means 41,811 US corporations – 81% of all US firms in the EU - could sue us under CETA’s rules. So who needs TTIP anyway?

This is our message to leaders who oppose TTIP: if your opposition to this deal is genuine, then listen to your electorates, your trade unions and civil society groups and oppose CETA too.

And this is our message to the people of the UK: if you value parliamentary sovereignty, our legal system, public services or democratically made rules to protect society and the environment, tell your MEP and MP that they must stop this toxic trade deal. Before it’s too late.

Latest news

BDS is a legitimate means of protest against human rights abuse, says War on Want

14 December 2017 - 12:15pm

Campaigning for BDS is a legitimate means of protest, a fact that has been affirmed time and time again by bodies such as the European Union. It’s effectiveness is one of the main reasons why there is an organised campaign led by the Israeli government to shut it down. Students have every right to use their democratic rights to organise and exercise freedom of expression, and should be applauded for calling out violations of international law and human rights abuse.

Read more

Was it too much to expect the WTO to deliver for women?

14 December 2017 - 12:00pm

Argentina, host for this week’s World Trade Organisation, welcomed hundreds of government representatives to Buenos Aires to negotiate the rules of the global trade in goods, services and ecommerce. Lagging far behind other international fora, the WTO made attempts to draw attention to the impact of trade on gender equality, and correspondingly the impact women’s economic productivity can have on trade.

Read more

Join the conversation

Was it too much to hope the #WTO would deliver for #women? We ask: https://t.co/kXHmd0SUrH https://t.co/RO070EtRVb 1 hour 28 min ago
At the end of a week of failed #WTO negotiations, read our take on how their policies have failed #women globally:… https://t.co/FxAh1m69y9 1 day 40 min ago
Inspiration to take action next year. 12 stories of real #resistance in 2017, from #metoo to Brazil’s biggest… https://t.co/oTvV4DgA7p 1 day 2 hours ago