Canada-EU trade deal undermines public interest regulation, workers: study

September 22, 2016

Ottawa and Berlin—A new transatlantic study finds that the proposed Canada–European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), far from being a “progressive” deal, will elevate the rights of corporations above workers and the environment and undermine government regulatory flexibility.

In this new edition of Making Sense of CETA, experts from Canada and Europe examine the likely impacts of the agreement’s far-reaching and problematic rules related to investment protection, financial services, public services, domestic regulation, intellectual property rights and other important public policy areas.

Importantly, the report addresses CETA’s potential implications for issues of critical public interest such as climate change, inequality and food sovereignty. It also challenges assertions by Canada and the EU that the deal’s investor-state dispute settlement process is a significant improvement on the NAFTA model.

“CETA’s so-called ‘investment court system’ will needlessly expose taxpayers in both Canada and the EU to huge financial liabilities and chill future progressive public policy,” says co-editor Peter Fuchs of the German NGO PowerShift. “Instead of abolishing investor-state tribunals as demanded by the European public, CETA expands this controversial system.”

“CETA, as drafted, interferes with governments’ ability to expand public services and reverse privatizations,” says co-editor Scott Sinclair, trade researcher with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), “The agreement can and should be amended to fully exclude public services. Official ‘clarifications’ that don’t change the text should not fool anyone into believing public services are protected.”

Other key findings in Making Sense of CETA include:

  • Procedural improvements to the deal’s investor-state dispute settlement system—the result of strong public pressure to reform or abolish this anti-democratic process—will not stop foreign investors from suing governments over legitimate public policy choices that may negatively affect their investments.
  • CETA contains no clear carve-out for public services. Once foreign investors are established in a privatized sector, efforts to restore or expand public services can trigger foreign investor claims for compensation, which will put a chill on improving services in the future.
  • CETA’s rules restricting how governments can regulate go well beyond establishing a level playing field for foreign and local firms. CETA enables challenges even to completely non-discriminatory regulations related to things such as licensing procedures for pipelines, nuclear power plants, or toxic waste facilities, which the treaty dictates must be “as simple as possible.”

The first edition of Making Sense of CETA, published in September 2014, analysed an early version of the CETA text. This second edition analyses the final legal text of CETA as made available in February 2016, and is the most comprehensive, independent review of the agreement to date.


For more information, contact Kerri-Anne Finn, CCPA Director of Communications, at 613-563-1341 x306.