EU-Canada trade deal not in tune with public opinion

GUE/NGL MEPs slammed the EU-Canada trade agreement (CETA) for not taking into account public opinion during a debate with Karel De Gucht, the European Commissioner in charge of the negotiations, in the European Parliament last night.

Dutch MEP Anne-Marie Mineur: “This agreement gives big companies in Canada and the EU too much power. They have been able to dictate their terms and say exactly what they want whereas the reactions from EU citizens on the ISDS mechanism have just been swept aside. It is clear that the population has no desire for this agreement.”

Among the questions she asked De Gucht were whether EU countries would be free to freeze nuclear energy without being brought to the courts or whether he could guarantee that workers will be able to maintain their right to strike and have collective agreements.

Referring to the consultation procedure launched by De Gucht on the ISDS section of the CETA agreement, Helmut Scholz said: “If you're trying to ignore opinion, you're discrediting EU policies in in the eyes of the public. Let's act differently this time. The public does not want an ISDS, either in the CETA or TTIP agreements and as their democratically-elected representatives, we cannot vote in favour of this agreement with the ISDS clause.”

Eleonora Forenza: “There is a lack of a clear assessment of the social impact of this agreement as well as a total lack of rules to protect the labour market and social issues. The Commission has not fought to protect welfare and labour standards. We are not going to give discounts but we are going to run a huge campaign against CETA and all agreements such as TTIP which put liberalism before everything else.”

“Democracy is being attacked,” said Spanish MEP Lola Sanchez Caldentey. “You refuse to accept the Citizens' Initiative on this and other similar agreements. This shows contempt towards citizens and towards democracy. We reject this agreement because we defend the interests of the majority of people. This Parliament already rejected ACTA; we'll do the same for CETA.”