No support for CETA

13 October 2016

No support for CETA

Foto: SP

On Thursday the SP organised a public hearing on the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreeement (CETA) between the EU and Canada. Some ten experts were in attendance, including legal specialists and representatives of the Netherlands' two main trade union federations, the Consumers' Association and the country's major environmental group, Milieudefensie. The conclusion was unambiguous: there are so many objections to the current CETA Treaty that it must be rejected.

Both the European Commission and the Dutch government are doing their utmost to pilot the treaty through our own and other national parliaments. At the last minute the government sent a complementary 'declaration' (to be annexed to CETA) to the Parliament in The Hague, while just one day later a debate took place in which the parties represented were required to give their approval to the treaty. The status of this declaration is unclear and critics have said it lacks any force.

During the hearing a wide range of concerns were expressed, including that insufficient protection would be offered to sustainability or to labour standards. Major corporations, on the other hand, would be granted all sorts of privileges, including the notorious dispute mechanism – ICS - under which they will be able to sue states.

A number of the speakers argued that this was in conflict with European law. There was general astonishment that trade minister Lilianne Ploumen has announced that she wanted to 'reset' trade negotiations to make them more open, but that she had refused to do this for CETA. The joint declaration to be appended to the treaty was seen simply as a repetition of what was in the text, and thus as adding little of value.

The expectation is that CETA will be signed on 27th October. The SP is completely opposed to this and will continue to fight the agreement, including supporting a national demonstration against such trade treaties, called for the Saturday before the planned signing.

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