Democracy side-lined under plans to force though CETA trade deal

14 October 2016 - 10:30am
Press release

Controversial EU-Canada trade deal CETA is on the ropes after a German court and Belgian politicians highlighed the deal’s threat to democracy.

However, at the same time, a group of European parliamentarians are trying to rush through a vote on the deal before Christmas, foregoing any opportunity for European Parliament committees to scrutinise the wide-ranging deal – and only weeks after a study highlighted the deal’s threat to jobs, growth and intra-EU trade, and MEPs raised concerns about the deal’s threat to workers’ rights and public services, and the danger posed by CETA’s corporate courts.

In an admission that the text of CETA is fundamentally flawed, Canada and the European Commission pieced together a ‘declaration’ in a desperate attempt to save the deal, which both sides refuse to re-open for negotiation. In total, the deal was negotiated in absolute secrecy for five years from 2009 to 2014.

War on Want senior trade campaigner Mark Dearn said:

“It’s a scandal that there is an attempt to force through a vote on CETA by December, taking away the democratic scrutiny that is essential to a deal as wide-ranging and controversial as CETA.

“The European Commission has clearly learned nothing from its shameful approach to TTIP and is willing to risk the future of its entire trade agenda. After the frank admission that the CETA text is fundamentally flawed and – as campaigners have long warned – threatens workers’ rights, public services and the foundations of our legal system, the European Commission must radically change its approach by examining the evidence and listening to the millions of people opposed to this deal.”

If CETA passes through its full ratification process, the UK can be sued by US and Canadian corporations under the deal’s ‘corporate court’ investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism for up to 20 years after Brexit.

After learning that it had only seven days to scrutinise the CETA ‘declaration’, Minister-President of Wallonia (Belgium), Paul-Magnette, labelled the Commission’s timeline “an unacceptable violation of our democratic principles”.

A German court ruling published yesterday highlighted, among other issues, that it is unclear whether the deal violates Germany’s constitution and that the deal’s mechanism for removing regulations is not democratic: the court ruled that Germany must be able to exit CETA at a later date - which the current text of CETA may not allow - and that CETA’s ‘regulatory cooperation joint committee’ must be subject to democratic control.


Notes to editors

For further information and interviews, contact Mark Dearn on +44 7804 289680 or Ross Hemingway on +44 7983 550728

For more on CETA, visit:

Study from Tufts University on the economic impact of CETA on Europe:

For more information on the German court ruling:

Wallonia speaks out against seven-day timeline:

Belgian regional government may block CETA:


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