So now the European Commission Consultation has closed, they are overwhelmed by over 150 000 responses and what do they do?
Do they put all the person power they have on analysing the responses, trying to understand why so many citizens took the time to respond and why it’s important to us?
Do they think through the implications for other trade and investment deals in the pipeline?
Not a bit of it.
It’s business as usual despite the fact that there are concerns even among senior Commissioners (no less than in the shape of Jean-Claude Juncker) about the Investor State Dispute Settlement mechanism in particular. He is quoted as saying:
“I don’t understand why great democracies would not have faith in the judiciary,” Juncker told Green MEPs. “We have courts which are able to deal with cases that are brought to them, and so I’m not really in favour of what one could call ‘private courts’ or arbitration bodies which may sometimes reach good decisions but don’t always have to justify their decisions.”
And in a speech Karel de Gucht, EU Trade Commissioner, made to the European Parliament in July 2014 he said:
‘I know that many EU citizens are afraid of including ISDS in the agreement.’ … ‘We have suspended the negotiations with the US on this issue while we conduct a public consultation. We will draw the conclusions from it in due course.’
Remember the consultation document? One of the things they did – to reassure us all – was to quote text from the EU Canada Trade Agreement (CETA) as an indication of the safeguards they were going to negotiate with the US. At the time of the consultation, CETA had not been finalised (or at least the full text wasn’t anywhere in the public domain).
But many of the commentators and respondents to the consultation (me included) felt that the quotes from CETA were not really good enough; they were broadly phrased, open-ended, suggested that there could be changes made in the future without further treaty negotiations at a level that would require ratification by Member States and the European Parliament. No, CETA was certainly not a reassurance. Far from it.
On 5 August 2014 (just about a month after the end of the consultation on TTIP and well before any serious analysis of this consultation could have taken place) the European Commission’s Directorate General Trade issued a Note to the Trade Policy Committee on progress on CETA.
The document is limited – i.e. not to be issued outside the European Institutions but has been widely leaked with a link to it appearing in Euractiv, a widely read news digest on European issues.
It suggests that attached to the note was ‘the full set of corresponding texts (…), including consolidated version of all chapters, annexes, declarations, understandings as well as side letters agreed with Canada.’ So, instead of waiting for the results of the consultation on TTIP to be analysed so that they can inform at least the ISDS provisions in TTIP and CETA (because that would follow the logic of using the example of CETA in the consultation to reflect what might be in TTIP), negotiations on CETA carry on as if nothing had happened.
Arguably, CETA in its final form now has to be agreed by the relevant Council bodies; it is likely to be signed at an EU – Canada Summit in September this year, and it then has to be ratified by all Member States and by the European Parliament. The timetable for ratification is not clear.
At this stage, the webpage of the International Trade Committee of the European Parliament does not show when this item might be timetabled. As with other such agreements the European Parliament can only say yes or no.
So now is the time to write to your MEPs to tell them that you don’t like CETA any more than you like TTIP and that they should vote no to CETA because it is dangerous and undemocratic and because the very fact that it has now been finalised shows the European Commission isn’t listening.
And whilst you’re about it, you should also write to your MP to ask them to make sure that your government won’t ratify the deal either.