Brussels – The European Commission should foster public debate about alternatives to uncontrolled trade, following a damning ruling by the General Court of the EU on Wednesday, said Greenpeace.
The ruling on 10 May annulled a decision by the Commission in 2014 to block the registration of a European citizens’ initiative (ECI) petition that was critical of prospective EU trade agreements with the US, known as TTIP, and Canada, known as CETA. The registration of the ECI and the collection of at least a million signatures from across the EU would have forced the Commission to issue an official response and prompted a debate in the European Parliament.
Greenpeace trade policy campaigner Kees Kodde said: “The Commission needs to show it’s open to a public conversation about the future direction of trade policy. Silencing critical voices because they challenge a dogma of uncontrolled trade that tramples on people and nature doesn’t only go down badly in the courts, it also fosters bitterness and resentment among people. To become a force for good, trade must no longer be an end in itself, but a means to strengthen our social rights and keep us within planetary boundaries.”
Despite the Commission’s refusal to register it as an ECI, the petition collected close to 3.3 million signatures in under a year. The petition raises concerns about the effects of TTIP and CETA on democracy, the rule of law, the environment, health, public services, and consumer and labour rights.
TTIP negotiations were abandoned following the election of US president Donald Trump, who has been critical of trade agreements. On the other hand, CETA is expected to provisionally enter into force over the summer, even though it still requires ratification by national and regional parliaments in the EU.
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