European Trade Union calls for a fundamental rethink of Canadian and US trade deals

In advance of a meeting of European trade ministers the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) has called for a fundamental rethink of major trade negotiations with the United States and Canada.

On 21 November, the Council is to discuss an agreement with Canada (the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, CETA) about which the Commission has announced that the negotiations are concluded, and ongoing negotiations with the US (the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, TTIP).

The ETUC has made clear that it opposed the CETA because:

  • It includes an Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism which gives inappropriate legal advantages to foreign investors;
  • It does not unequivocally exclude public services in European countries from areas that can be liberalised; and
  • It does not include enforcement procedures to guarantee the implementation of standards of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

The ETUC has denounced CETA as a “Trojan horse” for bringing in the same unacceptable approach to be taken in TTIP.

The ETUC has made those positions clear to the Canadian and US Governments as well as to the European Institutions and will work with Members of the European Parliament block such unacceptable agreements.  It has called on its affiliated organisations throughout Europe to raise those concerns with their governments and elected parliamentary representatives.

ETUC General Secretary Bernadette Ségol said: “Trade unions on both sides of the Atlantic are united in wanting agreements negotiated in the public interest, not for vested interests, and that do not privatise the gains of trade while socialising the losses.

Our tests are clear. CETA does not meet them and if TTIP follows the same course it will fail them too.  I welcome the intention of Cecilia Malmström, the new Commissioner for trade, to initiate a ‘fresh start’ in the Commission’s approaches.  She should now put the deals on hold and review whether they really do respect democracy, will generate decent jobs and enhance workers’ rights.”