Canada Agrees To Use EU's 'Lipstick On A Pig' Version Of Corporate Sovereignty For CETA

from the clever-cosmetic-changes dept

Last September, Techdirt reported on the EU's plan to replace the highly-controversial corporate sovereignty provisions in TAFTA/TTIP -- the "investor-state dispute settlement" (ISDS) chapter -- with something it called the "Investor Court System" (ICS). As we reported then, even if ICS addressed all the problems of ISDS -- spoiler alert: it certainly doesn't -- there was a huge backdoor in the form of CETA, the trade deal between the EU and Canada. If CETA includes old-style corporate sovereignty provisions, US companies with subsidiaries in Canada will be able to use CETA to by-pass TAFTA/TTIP's new ICS system completely, and sue EU nations using ISDS with all its widely-recognized faults. In fact, Bernd Lange, the MEP with responsibility for making recommendations on how the European Parliament (EP) should vote on international trade matters, said at the time that he would not support CETA if it included ISDS.

The arrival of a new government in Canada while CETA is still undergoing "legal scrubbing" -- checking and tweaking the exact wording -- has given the European Commission the opportunity to re-negotiate the corporate sovereignty chapter in CETA, even though it rather sneakily claimed it couldn't do that. But it turns out it could, and did, in a move that is likely to have important repercussions:

The European Commission and the Canadian Government have agreed to include a new approach on investment protection and investment dispute settlement in the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

The negotiations on a free trade deal between the European Union and Canada were concluded in 2014 with a reformed investment dispute settlement system, notably with full transparency of proceedings and clear and unambiguous investment protection standards.

Following the legal revision of the text, the agreement now reached goes even further. All the main elements of the EU's new approach on investment, as outlined in the EU's TTIP proposal of November 2015 and contained in the recently concluded EU-Vietnam free trade agreement, have been included in the finalised CETA text.

This represents a clear break from the old Investor to State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) approach and demonstrates the shared determination of the EU and Canada to replace the current ISDS system with a new dispute settlement mechanism and move towards establishing a permanent multilateral investment court. This revised CETA text is also a clear signal of the EU’s intent to include this new proposal on investment in its negotiations with all partners.
By persuading Canada to accept the ICS instead of a marginally-updated ISDS, the European Commission can claim to have addressed Lange's concerns. Indeed, his party, the Socialists and Democrats (S&D), rushed out a press release that tries to claim credit for the move:
The Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament welcome the announcement made today by the European Commission and the Canadian government on the changes in the trade agreement between the EU and Canada (CETA) so as to include the S&D demands.
What matters here is not who did what, but that the S&D are now unlikely to block CETA because of the corporate sovereignty provision. With broad S&D support, CETA stands a better chance of being ratified by the European Parliament sometime later this year.

However, even with ICS in CETA, the European Commission still faces an uphill battle convincing the US that it too should agree to replace the old-style corporate sovereignty in TAFTA/TTIP. Last week, during the 12th round of the TTIP negotiations, the EU formally proposed its ICS alternative (pdf), but we don't yet know what the official US response will be. Unofficial comments suggest that it is lukewarm about the idea. Since some powerful US business lobbies seem unhappy with the ICS approach, Canada's decision to accept it in CETA may paradoxically stiffen US resistance to the idea in TAFTA/TTIP. And without ICS, Lange's S&D could decide they have to vote against the deal if and when it comes up for ratification in the European Parliament.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Mar 2016 @ 1:24am

    I've just had an idea - what we need to do is push to have communities recognised as corporations (if corporations are people then that should work the other way) and quality of life as profits. That way when a corporation strip mining operation poisons the town the town can sue under ISDS.

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

    • identicon
      Wendy Cockcroft, 2 Mar 2016 @ 7:24am

      Re:

      I do believe that town borough councils used to be called corporations.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 2 Mar 2016 @ 7:54am

        Re: Re:

        ...I do believe that town borough councils used to be called corporations...

        Some still are, and some towns have what's called a 'munincipal corporation' for the town's operations. All that depends on how the state's regulations and constitution are set up.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 2 Mar 2016 @ 8:53am

          Re: Re: Re:

          It's almost like 'corporation' refers more to a general organizational structure than some kind of systemic exploiter of the world???
          I am shocked.
          Shocked.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Mar 2016 @ 4:15am

    No way!

    The Socialists and the Democrats are for corporate sovereignty? No way! They are for the little guys. You know, the little guys who are big, rich corporations.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Mar 2016 @ 6:43am

      Re: No way!

      Socialism and Democracy is code for people ignorant enough to give away their liberty for the illusion of safety.A

      The fundamental different between the Dems and the Repukes is this.

      Republicans want to control the Nation and society by forcing subservience indirectly through Corporations. This is your basic 7-11 convenience store where you can buy power and use it as you see fit. As long as you can kiss corporate ass you are good.
      Attributes: Dishonest about wanting to control your life, Honest about giving it all away to corporations.

      Democrats want to control the Nation and society by forcing subservience through Government directly. This is where they trick people into thinking they will put a stop to the bully corporations with loop hole laws and welfare gimmicks.
      Attributes: Honest about wanting to control your life,
      Dishonest about giving it all away to corporations.

      Either way the corporations are here to stay until "The People" get their heads out of their asses and stop fucking with any form of a party system. Both are corrupt, both hide it in different ways, both blame the other for the very corruption they commit themselves.

      Parties were formed to usurp power from the people. Only a fool would vote for anyone in a party beholden to a leadership you DON'T ELECT!, and by the numbers... I can certainly say... there are a lot of fools voting.

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

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 2 Mar 2016 @ 4:27am

    Honestly I'd like to see that pig thoroughly cut and prepared as fit for each portion (I like my ribs well grilled in barbecue sauce). That's how these corporate sovereignty clauses should be treated. Cut, sliced, dead.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Mar 2016 @ 12:35pm

    ...So I clearly cannot choose the one in front of me.

    Really: When will the negotiators take a step back and realize that the vested interests in the US have spent the last decade building up a resistance to TTIP, so they don't really care WHICH solution is used, as long as everyone has to do it?

    National sovereignty has traditionally been the last defense against corporate abuse. It's not like the WTO or the UN is going to stand up for some nation in this arena....

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

  • identicon
    David E.H. Smith, 2 Mar 2016 @ 1:35pm

    Yamada leads ‘Sword & Shield’ Counter attack Suit against the Japanese gov’t, et al.

    CETA, TPP & the other Global Corporate treaties/'arrangements'; Suing the Global Corporate Economy via ‘your’ government.
    Japan; ‘The Submission’ to The Supreme Court of Canada paves the way for Expanding & Improving the basis of the Yamada led ‘Sword & Shield’ Counter attack Suit against the Japanese gov’t, et al. TPP & other Global Corporate Treaties/’Arrangements’ signatory gov’ts. in Conflict of Interest.

    (CAN.) – The TPP & the other global corporate treaties/’arrangements’ provides that the signatory governments will not only be no longer able to sue corporations for not adhering to the laws of their host countries & thereby, replace the desire of American lead corporations for tort reform with tort abolishment, but the TPP will also place the signatory governments in positions of a conflict of interest in regard to their own harmless citizens who are being forced to find their own, non-governmental means of enforcing existing & future laws that have been passed by way of:
    1) the secrecy of unethical lobbyists for the benefits of their wealthy corporation clients & their shareholders,
    &/or,
    2) the ethical desire to compete with other countries by passing laws that protect & enhance the well-being of its citizens regarding their health care, education, worker safety, environment, transfer payments, etc.

    However, it seems that it is only recently that the harmless citizens of Japan & other nations are learning that due to Corporate Canada’s, &/or, the government of Canada’s anxious desire to impress its TPP corporate associates, &/or, the citizens of Japan, et al, with:
    1) its unencumbered access to the natural resources that are continuing to be discovered in Canada,
    2) its ability to ‘manage’ Native Canadians in regard to accessing the aforementioned natural resources in Canada
    &
    3) et al,
    Corporate Canada, &/or, the Canadian government has misinformed its corporate associates & deprived its corporate associates of due diligence information (eg. the Canadian government, et al, is continuing to deprive Native Canadians, et al, of the information & questions in The W.A.D. Accord),
    which will greatly affect the costs of developing the aforementioned natural resources, and thus, as a consequence of Corporate Canada’s, &/or, the Canadian government’s actions it has given the harmless citizens of Japan, et al, the basis for:

    1) not only, suing Corporate Canada, &/or, the government of Canada, via the Canadian government,
    but, for :
    2) also expanding & improving upon Mr. Yamada’s existing suit against the Japanese government, &/or, Corporate Japan, et al, as well.
    And, thus, Corporate Canada, via their lobbyists to the Canadian government, are most anxious to escape from their liabilities by a rapid ratification of the TPP, et al.

    Therefore, the Japanese group, led by Mr. Masahiko Yamada, who are suing their government regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership on behalf of themselves & the citizens of Japan, might seriously consider suing Corporate Canada, in order to ensure that they, the harmless citizens, do not end up having to ‘contribute’ any of their tax dollars to pay for The Compensation in The W.A.D. Accord, et al, & thereby, prevent Corporate Canada from escaping its liabilities by way of the ratification of the TPP, et al.

    Furthermore, by suing Corporate Canada &/or, the government of Canada, by Mr. Yamada’s group, would enable the harmless citizens of Japan as a ‘sword’ & a ‘shield’ to prevent the government of Japan from using any of tax dollars of the harmless citizens of Japan to further punish the harmless citizens, ie. the ‘shield’ & to provide the monies necessary from the punitive damages, on an on-going basis, to continue to fight the future capricious forays & assaults against the harmless citizens’ democracy
    and counteract the damages to it, etc. caused by Corporate Japan, the government of Japan, et al, ie. the ‘sword’.

    In the meantime,
    Please see the reference material below:
    ‘The Submission’ to The Supreme Court of Canada:
    ‘The SHAREHOLDERS & Corporations of JAPAN, America, China, Canada, the EU,
    the Trans-Pacific nations, et al,
    v.
    the (harmless) Canadian NON shareholders, both; Native & non Native, et al’
    (see; davidehsmith.wordpress.com)

    which includes:
    1) The W.A.D. Accord,
    2) ‘The MERKEL (Chancellor of Germany) Letter; To Sue, or, Be Sued?’
    &
    3) et al.

    ‘The Submission’ also considers:
    1) what is a ‘good corporate citizen’
    &
    2) how to make those corporations which are not good corporate citizens to conform, or, to make the corporations persona non grata.

    The letter to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, ‘Prime Minister Abe; You’ve been Served with; The NOTIFICATION of Pre-existing CHALLENGE to The TPP’, was sent separately.

    Please also see; ‘The Basis for Litigation & Litigation Funders; Suing the Global Corporate Economy’.
    ***
    For More Info, see; davidehsmith.wordpress.com
    ***
    Please consider sharing the above info & questions with 10 friends who share with 10 friends & so on...

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


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