TPP Dead, TTIP Dying, But The EU And Canada Seem Determined To Ram Through CETA Deal Without Proper Scrutiny
from the cost-benefit-analysis,-what's-that? dept
The death of TPP has now been confirmed by Donald Trump himself in a short video posted to YouTube. As Mike wrote recently, the other huge trade deal, TTIP, is now in limbo, probably dying, and there are rumors that even the low-profile Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) has been put on ice pending instructions from the new President. Doubtless attempts will be made to revivify them, and if those fail, there will certainly be further so-called “trade” deals — which actually go way beyond trade — that seek to bring in all the bad things that Techdirt has been warning about for years.
But alongside TPP, TTIP and TISA, there is one deal that is teetering on the brink of success. CETA is a smaller-scale agreement between the EU and Canada, but it’s more important than it looks. It allows US companies with subsidiaries in Canada to use the agreement’s corporate sovereignty provisions to sue the EU — and there are 42,000 such companies according to one analysis (pdf). As a result, CETA has been called “TTIP by the backdoor,” since it would provide a handy way for US companies to put pressure on EU nations even if TTIP suffers the same fate as TPP.
Perhaps because CETA looks increasingly like the last hope for the establishment to push through an old-style trade deal, there is now an unseemly haste on both sides of the Atlantic to ram it through the ratification process as quickly as possible, with as little scrutiny as possible. That’s most clearly seen in the EU, where the normal procedures for approval have been thrown out of the window, as this post explains:
CETA will only officially arrive at the European Parliament on November 21. From then MEPs have six months to analyse, write opinions, debate and vote. But a coup of sorts has ensured none of the usual procedures count this time. The centre-left and centre right groups, that together make up the huge majority known to many of us as the “grand coalition” in the European Parliament have plotted to ensure CETA will speed so quickly through this institution that if you blink, you may miss it. They want a vote as early as December, making it impossible for the Parliament to assess CETA in any concrete terms.
To make matters worse, several committees who have oversight on certain aspects covered in CETA have requested their own opinions, and as it stands all have been denied. The environment and employment committees, who complained that the speedy timetable made it impossible to adequately assess CETA, were refused opinions for seemingly no reason but to silence any critique.
Things aren’t much better in Canada, as Michael Geist explains:
Last week, Steve Verheul, the lead Canadian CETA negotiator, appeared before another House of Commons committee and was asked if the department has done any analysis on the financial impact of the extended patent protection [for pharmaceutical drugs]. Remarkably, Verheul said that it has not, arguing that it is difficult to come up with a projection.
Essentially, the Canadian government has absolutely no idea how much this concession to the EU is likely to cost the people of Canada. Nor does it really have much intention of trying to calculate it, because it plans to implement CETA regardless. As in the EU, then, the Canadian public is expected to sit back and meekly allow their government to sign up to a deal with open-ended risks, thanks to corporate sovereignty, but without any proper scrutiny of the costs and alleged benefits.
And yet the politicians involved in this arrogant and anti-democratic behavior are surprised when demagogues like Donald Trump win elections.