Brussels – The Dutch EU Council presidency has turned down a request to publicly broadcast today’s ministerial talks in Brussels on EU-US (TTIP) and EU-Canada (CETA) trade agreements. EU trade ministers will discuss whether national parliaments will be allowed to vote on the ratification of CETA. They will also debate the beleaguered EU-US trade deal, following a major leak of confidential negotiating texts by Greenpeace Netherlands on 2 May [www.ttip-leaks.org], and mounting public opposition.
Greenpeace warns that agreements such as TTIP & CETA seriously threaten the protection of human health and the environment on both sides of the Atlantic. CETA establishes a privileged arbitration system allowing multinational corporations to sue governments, above existing court systems in Canada and the EU. A similar system is also currently under negotiation for TTIP.
Greenpeace asked for the Trade Council talks to be streamed online, in light of broad public concern about trade agreements and a general lack of transparency. Despite claiming it highly values transparency, the Dutch EU presidency declined.
Greenpeace trade campaigner Susan Cohen Jehoram said: “Once again, our politicians deny EU citizens access to trade discussions that will have a massive impact on our lives and our democracies. Even if TTIP trade talks fail, CETA could act as a backdoor for multinational corporations to challenge EU standards in all sorts of areas, from food to public health.”
The proposed CETA investment court system would give foreign investors a privileged judicial system to challenge policies on environment and health protection, warned Greenpeace. Canadian companies, but also Canadian subsidiaries of global corporations, could use the system to protect their interests, while citizens and local businesses would be excluded.
Even before its ratification, CETA has had a ‘chilling’ effect on EU standards. During the negotiations, Canada put pressure on the EU to weaken standards on fuel emissions to facilitate exports of oil from Canadian tar sands – the most polluting fuels in the world.
This morning the Belgian anti-TTIP/CETA coalition also held a breakfast sit-in outside the Council building in Brussels, representing the almost 3.5 million citizens who have signed a European citizens’ initiative against TTIP and CETA. http://www.cncd.be/-stop-ttip-
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Greenpeace is an independent global campaigning organisation that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment and to promote peace. Greenpeace does not accept donations from governments, the EU, businesses or political parties.