Politics

by Glyn Moody


Filed Under:
canada, ceta, corporate sovereignty, eu, isds, trade



CETA's Festering Wound: Corporate Sovereignty

from the just-chop-it-out dept

Remember CETA, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the EU? Even though the text was "celebrated" back in October 2014, it is still not ready to be presented for possible ratification. As Techdirt has been covering, it's pretty clear that the problem area is the corporate sovereignty chapter, because of concerns about the huge power it grants to Canadian (and US) corporations. First there were hints that Angela Merkel wanted the so-called "investor-state dispute settlement" (ISDS) mechanism changed. Then France said the same -- twice. Most recently, the EU commissioner responsible for trade and trade agreements, Cecilia Malmström, indicated that it wouldn't be possible re-open the corporate sovereignty chapter, or to move away from "classic" ISDS to the re-branded version known as the Investment Court System (ICS), which the European Commission is pushing in an attempt to head off growing opposition to the whole idea.

However, the arrival of a new government in Canada seems to have changed the situation once more, as Politico.eu reports:

With the new liberal government in power, there is hope for more flexibility to amend the [CETA] agreement via legal scrubbing, while not officially reopening it.

"We’re prepared to work with the EU to work in the direction of an international court for investment disputes," Canadian negotiator Verheul said. "But if the EU is going to press us to adopt an appellate mechanism that would certainly involve quite a bit of further discussion … We recognize that's a longer-term exercise."
There are obviously some mixed signals there: yes, Canada is willing to tweak the details of the ISDS chapter, but no, it isn't prepared to go all the way to the Investment Court System -- probably in part because it doesn't exist yet, and its details remain sketchy. It's by no means clear how this will all work out in practise, but it does confirm that corporate sovereignty remains a festering wound in the CETA text, as it does in TAFTA/TTIP, where formal discussions about ISDS and/or ICS haven't even started (pdf).

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2015 @ 12:08am

    WHOT?

    Canada does not want to bend over for the EUROcrats Kingdom?

    Hm, it is Nailgun then?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 11 Dec 2015 @ 12:39am

    One person's festering sore is another's crown jewel

    Rip it out, and you get something different.

    "We can do that?" No, you can't. The whole point of dedicated negotiators is that the industry can work with predictable slush fund estimates and that precludes any last-minute considerations of third-party interests such as the people. It would not be cost-efficient if you had to bribe everybody you expect to suck out: it all has to add up.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      LAquaker (profile), 11 Dec 2015 @ 4:36pm

      Re: One person's festering sore is another's crown jewel

      In 1998 the B.L.M. (Bureau of Land Management) issues a 20 year gravel mining permit (fifteen times larger than any issued previously in the US) to TMC (Transit Mixed Corporation) at a location in Sand Canyon, 27 miles north of LA City Hall, half way between Saugas and Acton. The Canyon is a large "ventura" or air restriction, speeding up winds funneled between Antelope Valley and the ocean one direction in the morning, and the other direction at night as the Mojave heats and chills.
      Los Angeles County Supervisor Antonovich comes to the affected; Canyon Country, Valencia, Santa Clarita, Saugas, Newhall, Agua Dulce, Acton in his district and says the CUP (Conditional Use Permit) for one 88,000 Lb.truck with twin trailers every 2 minutes, 24/7, for the first 10 years.... and than one a minute for the second 10 years... won't happen "if we don't want it".
      "Fines" or micro dust will be controlled, or not, by spraying a million gallons of well water a day, OUR water.
      An 18 inches thick report of EPA charts and pages is distributed.
      Jobs are waiting to be filled.
      Nothing is offered for traffic or roadway compensation.
      We claim we will never see the stars again. Our children will never play outdoors again, except during the rain.
      (The people of South Central never see stars. Their children can't play outside their door, rain or not.)
      A second 18 inch thick report of EPA charts and pages is distributed.
      Santa Clarita puts up $1.3million to stop the new operation.
      TMC is bought by CEMEX (Mexico) in late 2000. Antonivich becomes George Kerby, the invisible debutante http://homepage.ntlworld.com/forgottenfutures/smith/topper2/top2-07.htm .
      We're monotheistic in the 5TH district, no other layer of politician exist in "unincorporated" areas of Los Angeles County, god's; (ie. Antonivich's) trusty Tonto retires, replaced by a likable Italian Ms.
      CEMEX sues LA County Board Of Supervisors for $2or3 billion in "lost profits".
      This new BIG pit will undercut the hundred LOCAL gravel pits (within a market area that includes Arizona) and will revolutionize gravel marketing, moving gravel out of the mom and pop "era" into economy of scale per the 21centry. No more one-for-you, one-for-me haggling for peagravel.
      A three judge panel of persons knowledgeable in the industry under NAFTRA will now decide.
      Health, quality-of-life, "stikle fish" specie loss, Diesel fumes are moot and specious arguments.
      I spend six months putting a concert together on both sides of the Tijuana-San Diego border, dragging people from 'Global Phobia' in TJ, 'Global Exchange' in SF, 'AFSC' (Quakers) in Tucson to complement the Quebec City North American Free Trade Agreement events in April 2001. 2,000 kids show up in San Diego. I drag myself out of post-protest debate in a borrowed hottub on Monday too a 8:30am meeting of the Los Angeles Board Of Supervisors on Tues. morning back in LA.
      650 hard nose Republicans and Libertarians are in a room that might see twenty in the audience on an average Tuesday.
      Three or four of us knew that we were staring Free Trade in the face.
      No one blinked till 2015; http://scvnews.com/2015/08/28/feds-cancel-cemex-soledad-mining-contract/

      BEGIN
      http://www.vision.com/c ase-studies/it/cemex-patrimonio-hoy.aspx

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2015 @ 2:52am

    is deploying the EU army on Canada's border part of the contract?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Roger Strong (profile), 11 Dec 2015 @ 6:57am

      Re:

      No, but it allows for "improved labour mobility." Europeans can come to Canada to work for up to three years.

      We're waiting for certain American politicians - the ones who still believe that 9/11 hijackers came through Canada - to notice this and go ballistic.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2015 @ 7:56am

      Re:

      ...is deploying the EU army on Canada's border part of the contract?...

      Last time I checked the "EU army" was barely adequate for local defense; 'power projection' would be a challenge. Don't be surprised if they ask the US for assistance, though presently the US is having it's own power projection challenges.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 12 Dec 2015 @ 9:52am

        Re: Re:

        EU is sold to the world as a federal Europe, but it is not. EU is a cooperation and anything else they may pretend to be is most of all a theater to force a federation on a citizenship that is more than a little sceptical (EURO, military, upcoming european FBI and NSA, supranational legal cooperation etc.).

        EUs army is very insufficient to defend Europe and to use it would require consent from all countries in EU. In reality EUs "army" as it stands will never be relevant for anything so might as well save the money.
        There are individual countries in the EU area with established 'power projections' abroad, but they are very specialized and has nothing to do with EU...

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2015 @ 3:34am

    what right can any company etc have to be above the law? how can any government be stupid enough to agree to spend millions each time a company wants something but doesn't get, in 'court' battles? and most importantly, how can any government expect to be able to finance any corporation etc when it will make things worse for it's own citizens?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      tqk (profile), 11 Dec 2015 @ 1:50pm

      Re:

      what right can any company etc have to be above the law? how can any government be stupid enough to agree to spend millions each time a company wants something but doesn't get, in 'court' battles?

      Wow, are you ever naive (or uninformed). Corporations buy the laws they want by donating a few grand to politicians' campaign funding (they sell out pretty cheaply). The "government" of which you speak is the playground of politicians. The citizens of which you speak are are ignored when possible, herded when necessary, and humored and ignored otherwise.

      The present Liberal gov't is the other face of Canada's always ruling party, Liberals and Conservatives (sort of like the US' Democrats and Republicans respectively). They both want pretty much the same thing from their corporate masters (money), and now that the Conservatives have pretty much tarnished themselves for the moment, it's the Liberals' turn. "Plus ca change, ..." Don't expect the Liberals to do anything the Conservatives wouldn't. They won't. They just have different best friends, and many of the same friends.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2015 @ 4:45am

    When did we let the lawyers take over the world, It's like a new international criminal organization..

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2015 @ 6:21am

      Re:

      It is a two-pronged attack: First came the lawyers and then came the economists.

      Since the nineties those two groups have become an inevitability. Before that everybody was capable of suggesting laws and calculating economic impacts. Today the lawyers are needed to avoid laws overlapping and to keep international obligations - there is simply too much work in that today. For economists, you need their models if you want to sell anything politically. Keynes would turn in his grave if he saw the complexity of New Keynesian- and Neo-classical models today.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2015 @ 6:39am

        Re: Re:

        Basically we have reached a post-democratic world:

        In the old democracy of the 1900s, you elected people to make decissions with the goal of improving the society.
        Today we are electing ambassadors to administrate the system and make decissions with the goal of improving the economy...

        Don't get me wrong: We still get a variety of all sorts of crazy come election time. But as soon as they get responsibility, they are forced to deal with the reality of the situation and compromise.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2015 @ 8:57am

          Re: Re: Re:

          In the old democracy of the 1900s, you elected people to make decisions with the goal of improving the society.
          Today we are electing politicians who pander to money and we have a corporate controlled system. Meanwhile the Rich, who tend to control said companies, being afraid of losing power when China becomes the powerhouse are hoarding wealth and screwing everyone.

          FTFY

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    royleith (profile), 11 Dec 2015 @ 9:16am

    ISDS Festering?

    Is there any chance it will turn black and drop off?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Rekrul, 11 Dec 2015 @ 10:35am

    It's ironic; Corporations are desperate to put language into contracts preventing people from suing them, meanwhile governments are desperate to put language into trade agreements allowing corporations to sue them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2015 @ 12:45pm

    Oh, i see the represented are getting represented then.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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