GUE/NGL MEPs worried by impact of CETA on Slovakia and Czech Republic
MEPs were astonished to learn that only 11 activists are currently directly involved in civic movements against the two European Commission-led trade agreements – eight in the Czech Republic and three in Slovakia.
For Slovakia, where SMEs form the backbone of the economy, the GUE/NGL delegation were keen to know how this would affect the crucial wine sector, for example, which typically employs around 10 people per vineyard.
Local experts warned that should CETA and/or TTIP be ratified, no companies in Slovakia or the Czech Republic would be in a financial position to either challenge or defeat North American multinationals in a legal fight.
Portuguese MEP and substitute on the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development in the European Parliament Miguel Viegas was adamant that TTIP and CETA pose a big threat to the continent and to Slovakia’s agricultural sector and food safety standards:
“I have nothing against international trade which can be a positive thing as long as it comes from mutually beneficial agreements.”
“But if it’s based exclusively on competition, then we should put forward a counter model that would be in the mutual interests of both sides in the EU and North America – or we’d end up with the law of the jungle that is CETA and TTIP, agreements done at the behest of the multinationals,” said Viegas.
Irish MEP Martina Anderson, meanwhile, saw the movement against CETA and TTIP as reminiscent of the doomed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) which the Parliament rejected back in 2012. After the seminar, she reacted:
“ACTA was the most successful campaign that people and parliamentarians were involved in. Potentially, we could do the same with CETA but my concern is that multinationals have already started to implement it. You’ll then see legal challenges through the ISDS (Investor-State Dispute Settlement)/ICS (Investment Court System) against national, sovereign governments whose hands will be tied just because the Commission is looking after the multinationals’ influence in policy development.”
“Even after the Brexit vote, the Commission has learned nothing,” said Anderson.
Cypriot MEP Neoklis Sylikiotis also expressed concern about the impact of ISDS/ICS:
“Although TTIP and the possible loopholes in it now look dead, the social democrats are still pushing CETA through the backdoor.”
“If we have a treaty with Canada, it’s a worry that everything rejected through TTIP will just come through CETA. The ISDS/ICS is an instrument for these big companies to try to get round any kind of sovereignty and de facto privatisation,” concluded the Cypriot MEP.
GUE/NGL press contact in Bratislava:
Ben Leung +32 (0) 470 880 965