All That On-Off Excitement About CETA Last Year? It's Happening Again

from the mostly-about-corporate-sovereignty,-of-course dept

Remember last year when CETA, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the EU, was on, then off, then on again, then off again, and finally on again? After that, CETA was ratified by the European Union, and now needs to be approved by all Member States’ parliaments before it is definitively in force. Well, guess what? One of those parliaments — in the French-speaking Belgian region of Wallonia, which has already derailed CETA before — could be about to block it again. As an article originally in The Globe and Mail reports:

The trade deal between Canada and the European Union is facing a new challenge from the Belgium region of Wallonia which is threatening to block final ratification of the agreement. Wallonia First Minister Paul Magnette said in an interview that his government will not support the CETA trade deal when it comes up for ratification unless changes are made to how disputes are resolved. Mr. Magnette also said his government is challenging the legality of the dispute resolution mechanism in the European Court of Justice, which could take at least two years to rule.

Yet again, the problem is mainly the corporate sovereignty chapter, which is emerging as a real trade deal killer (hint to governments: why not drop it?). But it’s not just Wallonia that might stymie CETA. According to a post from the Council of Canadians, the final ratification of CETA also faces challenges in the Netherlands, France, Germany, Italy and Bulgaria. If one or more of those do halt the deal, another question arises:

If the full ratification of CETA is blocked, will the provisional application be undone? Council of Canadians trade campaigner Sujata Dey comments, “The German constitutional court has already ruled that provisional application can be undone. And in the country statements adopted by the European Council (the EU institution comprised of the heads of state or government of the member states, which sets the EU’s overall political direction and priorities) many countries reiterated their right to undo provisional application.”

It seems that as far as CETA is concerned, it ain’t over until, well, it’s completely over.

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Comments on “All That On-Off Excitement About CETA Last Year? It's Happening Again”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Yet again, the problem is mainly the corporate sovereignty chapter, which is emerging as a real trade deal killer (hint to governments: why not drop it?)

You are assuming that governments set the agenda for trade negotiations. However it appears that it is the corporations, mainly US based, that set the agendas.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The main reason why ISDS was introduced was to guarantee companies that they would not just be “nationalized” and lose all their investment. A tactic Russia/Soviet bloc has used extensively.

ISDS is a guarantee that a company will get some recompensation if laws are to change. Thus: It is not “illegal” to break a trade agreement, but if a country does so, they will have to pay extensively for doing so (The distinction becomes less relevant the more you think about it). The most significant change in ISDS is the inclusion of “services” in the modern trade agreements, which includes if companies are doing paperwork towards using a thing that gets outlawed, IP and several other fields.

Politicians are seeing ACTA as a once in a million years event caused by trying to lay digital IP laws dead (Causing changes in a certain direction to become unpayable – Hollywood math!). That was an absolute fools errand since the digital IP law in Europe has been getting hammered from all sides.

Today politicians are much more careful about introducing those subjects into “trade agreements”. But it has not caused any significant change to the better in the opacity it is negotiated under, the exclusive access to the negotiation papers and the lack of any real control of ISDS impartality or responsibility. The politicians have accepted a bit more say throughout the negotiations in exchange for not changing the schtick significantly.

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Erm, if you’ve ever read the text you’ll find similar language to ACTA’s in there.

Insurance is available, nullifying the rationale for ISDS.

If “Rogue govt. might nationalise my stuff” is the problem, how in the world would you get them to pay up following a tribunal decision against then? ISDS is an extortion racket dressed up as enforcement of the rule of law
to “ensure adherence to contractual arrangements.” See Veolia V Egypt for details.

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