note: CETA is the equivalent of the defeated TTIP sellout, but routed via Canada
In the beginning, only a small clutch of dedicated activists, trade unions and charities raised the red flag against the now hated EU-US trade deal, TTIP.
Fast-forward a couple of years, through leaks of TTIP chapters, exposés by journalists and huge protests, European countries are now falling over themselves to reject this deal. One by one, we have seen Germany, France and now Austria condemn TTIP and any chance of its success.
“The UK could still be sued under CETA’s corporate courts for up to 20 years after Brexit”
But what explains this apparent about-face from politicians who were previously all too keen to label TTIP’s opponents as ‘anti-trade’ and ‘anti-US’?
People power has played a crucial part. The domestic politics of France, Germany and Austria – all of which are due to have elections in the very near future – are also critical. But the fate of another secretly negotiated and dangerous trade deal, Canadian TTIP ‘CETA’ is also a key factor.
The European Commission’s director-general for trade said recently that if CETA is not passed, the EU’s trade policy will be “close to death”. For the champions of an avowedly neoliberal and consistently secret trade agenda, CETA has now become the rallying point.
CETA is the Canadian TTIP. Like TTIP, it champions the destruction of rules designed to protect society and the environment – as laid out by a new report which highlights the huge differences in food safety rules between the EU and Canada, which big business wants to bring down to the lowest common denominator.
And just like TTIP, CETA is also designed to prevent the re-nationalisation of public services, at a time when more and more people are beginning to recognise the myths of privatisation from its repeated failures.
And, perhaps most worryingly, CETA also includes a cosmetically rebranded version of the ISDS corporate courts’ system which while looking palatable contains the same fundamental dangers: the destruction of the law as we know it, in order to create a one-way justice system for big business to sue states for lost profits.
The corporate court rebrand was only cooked up as a reaction to the highest ever response to a European Commission consultation, which showed 97% of people wanted them scrapped. In the words of UN Independent Expert Alfred de Zayas: “ISDS cannot be reformed. It must be abolished.”
And for the UK there is a particularly cruel sting in the tail. The UK could still be sued under CETA’s corporate courts for up to 20 years after Brexit, destroying parliamentary sovereignty in one fell swoop, a startlingly unreported fact.An activists from the anti-globalisation organisation ATTAC at the protest against planned trade pact CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) with Canada, in Berlin © Hannibal Hanschke / Reuters ›
Even worse, under CETA’s terms, a US corporation operating in Europe which also has a subsidiary in Canada can access CETA’s corporate courts. That means 41,811 US corporations – 81% of all US firms in the EU – could sue us under CETA’s rules. So who needs TTIP anyway?
an example.. how ISDS works
Companies and executives accused or even convicted of crimes have escaped punishment by turning to this special forum. Based on exclusive reporting from the Middle East, Central America, and Asia, BuzzFeed News has found the following:
- A Dubai real estate mogul and former business partner of Donald Trump was sentenced to prison for collaborating on a deal that would swindle the Egyptian people out of millions of dollars — but then he turned to ISDS and got his prison sentence wiped away.
- In El Salvador, a court found that a factory had poisoned a village — including dozens of children — with lead, failing for years to take government-ordered steps to prevent the toxic metal from seeping out. But the factory owners’ lawyers used ISDS to help the company dodge a criminal conviction and the responsibility for cleaning up the area and providing needed medical care.
- Two financiers convicted of embezzling more than $300 million from an Indonesian bank used an ISDS finding to fend off Interpol, shield their assets, and effectively nullify their punishment.
This is our message to leaders who oppose TTIP: if your opposition to this deal is genuine, then listen to your electorates, your trade unions and civil society groups and oppose CETA too.12/07/2014 – Protestors against the EU-US trade deal (TTIP – Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) outside the Houses of Parliament march to Europe House, the London Headquarters of the European Commission and the European Parliament, in Smith Square, London.
And this is our message to the people of the UK: if you value parliamentary sovereignty, our legal system, public services or democratically made rules to protect society and the environment, tell your MEP and MP that they must stop this toxic trade deal before it’s too late.
Mark Dearn is the senior trade justice campaigner at War on Want. He has previously worked as a journalist, for the End Water Poverty coalition, and Philippines-based NGO, IBON International.
The opinions in politics.co.uk’s Comment and Analysis section are those of the author and are no reflection of the views of the website or its owners.
The Secret Global Court: Why Corporate Criminals & Corrupt Politicians Desperately Want TPP
note. TTP is the equivalent of TTIP and CETA in Europe, but will operate between the US and East Asia.
Imagine a private, global super court that empowers corporations to bend countries to their will.
ay a nation tries to prosecute a corrupt CEO or ban dangerous pollution. Imagine that a company could turn to this super court and sue the whole country for daring to interfere with its profits, demanding hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars as retribution.
Imagine that this court is so powerful that nations often must heed its rulings as if they came from their own supreme courts, with no meaningful way to appeal. That it operates unconstrained by precedent or any significant public oversight, often keeping its proceedings and sometimes even its decisions secret.
That the people who decide its cases are largely elite Western corporate attorneys who have a vested interest in expanding the court’s authority because they profit from it directly, arguing cases one day and then sitting in judgment another. That some of them half-jokingly refer to themselves as “The Club” or “The Mafia.”
And imagine that the penalties this court has imposed have been so crushing — and its decisions so unpredictable — that some nations dare not risk a trial, responding to the mere threat of a lawsuit by offering vast concessions, such as rolling back their own laws or even wiping away the punishments of convicted criminals.
This system is already in place, operating behind closed doors in office buildings and conference rooms in cities around the world. Known as Investor-State Dispute Settlement, or ISDS, it is written into a vast network of treaties that govern international trade and investment, including NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which the US Congress must soon decide whether to ratify.