The European Commission has quietly concluded the free trade agreement with Japan today, but the European Council and European Parliament must still decide.
GUE/NGL MEPs warn that the Japan-EU Free Trade Agreement (JEFTA) contains many of the same problems as TTIP and CETA which European citizens have clearly stated that they find unacceptable.
GUE/NGL Shadow on JEFTA, Helmut Scholz, reacts: “This agreement has been negotiated in an enormous rush. As a result mistakes from CETA, the EU-Canada agreement, have been repeated.”
Scholz outlines the main problems with the agreement: “The agreement takes away regulatory control from parliaments in both Europe and Japan.”
“It reduces data protection for EU citizens by recognising Japanese data protection laws as adequate, and potentially even further reduces data protection through its ‘rendez-vous clause’ which commits to adding a chapter on trade in data in three years.
“The agreement would also lead to catastrophe for small farmers in Japan, once they are fully exposed to the competition of cheap food products from Europe.”
GUE/NGL MEP, Anne-Marie Mineur, adds: “We are pleased that the controversial Investor-State Dispute Mechanism has been left out of this agreement, but there are still many other elements that concern us.”
“The chapter on regulatory cooperation essentially allows the financial sector to co-author legislation on financial services. This is extremely worrying because we have all seen the economic crises created when the banks and the financial sector are not properly regulated and monitored.
“The COP21 Paris Agreement could be compromised – JEFTA could lead to the importation of illegal timber and more energy generated by heavily polluting coal, and it does very little to address whaling.
“Our European standards regarding GMOs are also higher than Japanese standards. This poses a huge challenge for regulatory bodies.”
“These big free trade agreements that are negotiated in secrecy reflect an approach to trade that is simply not supported by the public. And worse, the European Commission is not listening to or adapting its approach to the public’s concerns.”
The process of reaching the agreement has, like for TTIP and CETA, been shrouded in secrecy.
Helmut Scholz continues: “The European Commission proposes that the Japan-EU free trade agreement will be ratified exclusively in Brussels by the Council and Parliament, not in the member states. What appears to be a political shortcut will turn out to be a political detour when it results in further alienating our people from the European project.
“We have tried several times to call for a resolution from the European Parliament on the ongoing negotiations with Japan. This was rejected and this house has remained silent for five years. The result is a bad text of the agreement.
“I call on my colleagues to be brave enough to point out to the Commission the improvements that are needed in the text in order to achieve the Parliament’s consent.
Scholz concluded by challenging other MEPs: “Did you know that Japan is killing whales? You do? Then go and tell the Commission. There is not a single word to address the cruel practice of whaling in this trade agreement’s provisions on fisheries. I find this a shame.”
The Japan-EU Free Trade Agreement will be passed on to the European Council and European Parliament to make their decisions next year.

The investment component will be dealt with in a separate agreement to be negotiated over the coming months.

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