An Taisce and 80 Civil Society Groups, are calling on MEPs to reject the EU Canada trade deal

12th January 2017
Press Release

An Taisce is calling on MEPs to oppose the EU Canada trade deal known as CETA. [1]

The trade deal is making its way through the European Parliament. Today a European Parliament committee voted in favour of the deal. The final vote on CETA will be taken by the whole Parliament on February 14th.

The trade deal, called the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement or CETA, will compromise laws which protect health, food standards, the environment, worker's rights, and the rule of law in the EU as we know it.

The most controversial element is that the agreement will allow foreign companies to sue countries that introduce laws & policies which impact on their profits. This will put countries like Ireland under pressure not to bring in laws which limit businesses in any way, laws that may be designed to limit tobacco use or pollution levels, for example.

Prof John Sweeney, former President of An Taisce commented:

"A key concern is how the fear of being sued under CETA and how other elements of the deal will compromise essential action on climate change by Governments and the EU. Today's vote in favour of the CETA is a nail in the coffin of effective climate action."

ENDS

Charles Stanley-Smith, Communications, An Taisce. Tel: +353 87 241 1995
email: publicaffairs@antaisce.org
An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland
www.antaisce.org

Notes

[1] "CETA" - The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement here [2] The European Parliamentary Committee is ENVI with responsibility for environment, public health and food safety.

Click here to see the letter sent by Irish civil society groups

**Background **

Today, Thursday 12th Jan the ENVI Committee of MEPS with responsibility for Environment, Public Health and Food safety voted on a draft opinion prepared by rapporteur Bart Staes about the CETA, which recommended rejection of the CETA. CETA is the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement negotiated by the EU and Canada. The Committee first voted this morning on a series of ammendments to radically alter the opinion so that it became in favour of the deal and then voted to recommend acceptance of the deal.

Irish MEPs Nessa Childers, Lynn Boylan and Brian Crowley are full members of the ENVI Committee entitled to vote in ENVI today, Luke Ming-Flanagan and Mairead McGuinness are substitutes on the Committee without voting rights.

Following on from the ENVI vote, the EU Parliament's INTA Committee with responsibility for Trade is expected to vote on an opinion in favour of the deal.

At the end of 2016, the EMPL committee with responsibility for Employment and Social Affairs supported an opinion rejecting the CETA which outlined serious concerns about the impact of the CETA agreement on employment in the EU.

The EU Parliament is expected to vote on the CETA agreement in a full plenary on February 14th.

All MEPS will be entitled to vote in the plenary vote of the European Parliament on the agreement in February.

The vote of the EU Parliament in February will effectively clear the way for the implementation of many problematic elements of the agreement even before it comes before National Parliaments. This advance implementation is a process known as "Provisional Application".

The signatories to the letter to the ENVI MEPS are concerned about the negative implications of many of the elements of the agreement which would come in under Provisional Application, even though it has been agreed to not include in the Provisional Application the most controversial element - the Investment Court System, ICS which is the extra-judicial Investment Arbitration system which allows Big Business sue Sovereign Governments for introducing policy and regulation which impacts on their profitability.

Given Ireland's high level of Foreign Direct Investment - the exposure to such claims is considered to be very significant. While many other EU Member States Ireland have already been subject to similar Investment Arbitration Systems known as Investment Settlement Dispute System, ISDS through various Bi-lateral Investment Treaties, Ireland is quite unique in currently having very limited exposure to them. The Investment arbitration proposals in the CETA will transform this increasing the level of exposure right across the EU.

The CETA check tool enables citizens to simply request their MEP to vote against the CETA.

About An Taisce

An Taisce is a charity that works to preserve and protect Ireland's natural and built heritage. We are an independent charitable voice for the environment and for heritage issues. We are not a government body, semi-state or agency. Founded in 1948, we are one of Ireland’s oldest and largest environmental organisations.