PETITION TO LEICESTER CITY COUNCIL
As part of a coalition of local community and environmental groups, we have launched a petition to Leicester City Council asking them to oppose the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada which the European Parliament will vote on in February.
Our motivation in petitioning Leicester City Council is that, as various studies conducted in the UK, Europe and Canada show, CETA represents a serious threat to the ability of local governments to make decisions in the interests of their citizens. In particular:
- CETA would create special corporate courts where big business can sue elected bodies if they legislate or regulate in ways that might curtail a corporation’s projected future profits. In the Investor Court System (ICS) judges are appointed on a case-by-case basis and on an hourly pay. Given that only corporations can initiate procedures in the ICS (governments can’t use it to sue corporations), it follows that judges would have a vested interest in ruling in favour of corporations in order to encourage more cases. Germany’s largest association of judges and public prosecutors Deutsche Richterbund has said that “neither the proposed procedure for the appointment of judges of the ICS nor their position meet the international requirements for the independence of courts.”
- The ICS would work as a deterrent to discourage national and local governments from making decisions that that might attract multi-million lawsuits from well-funded corporations.
- CETA would further remove the provision of public services from democratic control. It is explicitly meant to reduce regulation on business using nebulous language and elastic concepts such as “fair and equitable treatment” and licencing procedures that are “as simple as possible” and do not “unduly complicate or delay” corporations’ activities. Regulations that protect the environment, employment rights, public health, food safety, communities and public services would be likely to land the national or local government that dares imposing them into trouble.
- Under CETA, local governments would be subject to local procurement commitments that would bar them from favouring local companies and local economic development. This would substantially restrict local governments from using public spending as a catalyst for achieving other societal goals – from creating good jobs, to supporting local farmers, to addressing the climate crisis.
- CETA poses a great threat to the environment and to the elected bodies’ ability to protect the communities they represent: amongst the Canadian companies that have been pushing harder for CETA are the mining, fracking and drilling companies that have already sued other countries, under other trade deals with provisions similar to the ICS, for passing legislation to protect their environment and communities. For example, Gabriel Resources is suing Romania for putting on hold the company’s planned gold and silver mine in Rosia Montana on environmental protection grounds, and TransCanada is suing the US for $15 billion in damages because President Obama rejected the Keystone XL pipeline, again on environmental protection grounds. In the UK, the current government is ignoring local communities’ opposition to fracking: CETA would give them an even stronger hand or prevent other governments from reversing such policies by making such reversal a breach of contract and therefore hideously expensive.
- CETA would also expose the UK to lawsuits from US subsidiaries domiciled in Canada, including Walmart, Google, IBM, ExxonMobil, McDonald’s, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Coca Cola and many others.
- Supporters of CETA claim that the deal will benefit investment and trade, but they back the claim with outdated figures from 2011 and 2013, which were generated before the deal was even drafted. The truth is that no cost/benefit analysis has been carried out, nor have the more recent data been used to make a better assessment.
CETA has been negotiated in secret between Canadian and EU business and political leaders, with no input from civic society. Liam Fox, who claims to be working to wrest sovereignty back to the British Parliament from the EU, has denied our Parliament any opportunity to scrutinise the deal, despite repeated requests. Notwithstanding its glaring defects and harmful effects, Boris Johnson has hailed it as the blueprint for all future post-Brexit bilateral agreements.
If CETA is approved in February, the UK could be shackled to it for up to 20 years even if a different UK government wanted out. This is why it is vital to ensure CETA is stopped.
For a full briefing visit: http://www.globaljustice.org.uk/stop-ceta.
Further studies can be found here: http://stopceta.net/resources/