EU-CETA Deal January 2017

Thank you for contacting me regarding the debate on the EU-Canada trade deal, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

As you will be aware, in June last year the electorate voted to leave the EU. However, while the UK is still a member of the EU, all EU rights and obligations continue to apply. As you may also be aware, CETA was signed in October 2016 and could provisionally come into force this year. I therefore agree that this remains an important issue.

I do not believe we should be establishing more walls or barriers to trade, but instead we need to make trade more just and inclusive. I am concerned that agreements like CETA undermine labour standards and environmental protections. I also fear that they give foreign investors special rights to bypass our legal system and prevent governments from legislating in the public interest.

I am aware CETA has the potential to cause job cuts, leading trade unions, as well as other organisations, in the UK, EU, and Canada to remain opposed to the deal. 

The official study of CETA estimates that it will add 0.01% per year (0.08% after seven years) to EU GDP, however a UN study finds that it will result in reduced economic growth in the EU, job losses and a dangerous reduction in intra-EU trade.

CETA was negotiated wholly in secret for five years. And as the vice-chair of the EU trade committee has confirmed, CETA is devastating news for the fight against climate change: the deal only progressed after new EU legislation on high-polluting fuels was diluted under pressure from the USA, Canada, the UK and Big Oil firms. For example, CETA could potentially stop a future government from banning fracking in the UK.

More than 3.4 million people across Europe – 500,000 here in the UK – have signed a petition against CETA due to its deregulation of social, health and environmental rules, the locked-in privatisation of public services, and the introduction of a ‘corporate court’ ISDS system that will grant Canadian big business and 80% of US corporations in Europe the power to sue our government for lost profits in a private justice system.

In order for CETA to be fully implemented, it must be ratified by all EU member states, including through the proper UK Parliamentary process. However, provided the European Parliament gives its consent, the EU will still be able to provisionally implement the vast majority of the agreement - although not the controversial investment court system - without the agreement of the UK Parliament. It is therefore disappointing that the Government failed to bring the agreement before Parliament prior to approving the European Commission's signature and provisional implementation of CETA. It is further disappointing that the Government has missed several deadlines for providing a date for Parliament to debate such an important treaty. I do not believe we should conduct trade negotiations without Parliamentary scrutiny and with no democratic control.

The British MEPs on the EU trade committee have found the language of the trade deal to be flawed yet cannot access the content of the treaty as the EU and Canada have refused to open the text. The debate should have occurred sooner but I believe that CETA does have huge negative implications for the UK and its future trade deals.

I can assure you I will continue to monitor this issue. Thank you once again for contacting me and for sharing your views on this issue.