CETA: Despite EU legal opinion, CETA still in play

CETA: Despite EU legal opinion, CETA still in play

Postby Oscar » Tue Jan 29, 2019 7:55 am

Despite EU legal opinion, CETA still in play

[ https://canadians.org/blog/despite-eu-l ... still-play ]

January 29, 2019 - 7:12am

The ISDS petition courtesy of Stop TTIP CETA ItalyToday, there was a major opinion which impacts whether the Canada-European trade agreement, the Canadian European Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) is adopted in Europe.

In a non-binding decision, the Advocate General of the European Court of Justice pronounced that the investor-state dispute settlement provisions in CETA are compatible with European law. The European Court is set to make their final decision in May.

As you may remember, Belgium, at the request of the Paul Magnette’s Wallonia government, asked the European Court of Justice to pronounce on whether the deal’s investor-state provisions (ISDS), those that let corporations sue states over their policy decisions, were compatible with European Union law.

If the ECJ rules against it, this would put much of the deal in jeopardy. While it was signed and provisionally implemented last September, the deal still needs the ratification of all 38 states, and the green-light from the ECJ.

In the meantime, for European social organizations, their verdict was clear. In the last week, over 270,000 Europeans supported by more than 100 organizations signed a petition saying that ISDS was not compatible with democracy.

Alexandra Strickner of Attac Austria explains: "It is clear to us that special claims for corporations are not compatible with democracy, climate protection, and social and labour rights. As numerous cases show, they limit governments' manoeuvre room to make urgently needed measures to protect the environment, workers and to reduce inequality. Our political fight against special claims for corporations continues. "

And apparently, even our Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland may agree with us. The newly negotiated Canada United States Mexico Agreement, not yet ratified, does not contain the clause between the U.S. and Canada. And she seemed to support that.

In her words, “It has cost Canadian taxpayers more than $300 million in penalties and legal fees. ISDS elevates the rights of corporations over those of sovereign governments. In removing it, we have strengthened our government's right to regulate in the public interest, to protect public health and the environment."

However, this doesn’t seem to be her stance in all of Canada’s other trade agreements. So, the question is, why does she support ISDS in CETA?

In any case, ratification is still being challenged in many states. Italy’s government said they would not only not ratify the agreement but would remove anyone from office who promoted the deal.

To be continued….

Sujata Dey
Trade Campaigner, The Council of Canadians
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Re: CETA: Despite EU legal opinion, CETA still in play

Postby Oscar » Tue Jan 29, 2019 7:57 am

EU-Canada trade deal is lawful - EU court adviser

[ https://www.euronews.com/2019/01/29/eu- ... rt-adviser ]

January 29, 2019

LUXEMBOURG (Reuters) - The EU-Canada free trade deal's provisions on investor protection are in line with EU law, a senior court adviser said on Tuesday in a recommendation to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) about terms seen by critics as favouring multinationals.

The view of Advocate General Yves Bot, if backed by the court, would be a major relief for proponents of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), which came into force on a provisional basis in September 2017.

The court is not bound by the opinions of advocate generals, but they tend to follow them in most cases. The 24 judges would normally give their verdict within two to four months.

Investor protection, and in particular a system of tribunals to settle disputes between foreign investors and states, became a focal point of protests against CETA when EU countries were deciding whether to back it in 2016.

The Belgian region of Wallonia threatened to block it, but Belgium persuaded it not to do so in return for certain concessions - including a request for the European Court of Justice to give its view.

Full implementation of CETA in any case requires the approval by all 28 EU member countries and, for Belgium, also regional parliaments.

Critics of the deal said that its provisions on investor protection give too much power to multinationals, letting them sue public authorities in special courts and effectively allowing them to dictate public policy.

Belgium asked the court whether the section in the CETA text about investment dispute settlement was compatible with EU law. Critics said the special courts undermined the supremacy of the ECJ and the right of access to an independent judiciary and also only allowed foreign investors to bring cases.

Advocate General Bot said that CETA did not affect the ECJ's role as the ultimate arbiter of EU law and that dispute settlement tribunals could grant compensation, but not order the annulment of measures deemed contrary to the agreement.

He added that CETA did not infringe the principle of equal treatment and that dispute settlement tribunals had procedural safeguards.
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