Skip to main content

CETA: the forerunner of the corporate neo-feudalism

This collection of short reports describes and analyses many of the most contentious aspects of the proposed Canada–EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). Dozens of trade and investment experts in Canada and the EU have collaborated to provide a diversity of perspectives on the proposed agreement, but all agree that CETA, as it is written, threatens the public good on both sides of the Atlantic. In a wide variety of policy areas only loosely related to trade, CETA elevates the rights of corporations and foreign investors above the welfare of citizens and the broader public interest.

Briefly:

- INVESTOR–STATE DISPUTE SETTLEMENT

The latest CETA text pays lip service to public concerns about investor–state dispute settlement (ISDS) by replacing it with what the EU and Canada are calling an Investment Court System. While it improves some procedural aspects of ISDS—for example, by making arbitrators less prone to conflicts of interest—the protections afforded to investors in this new ‘court’ system are largely unchanged. Under CETA, foreign investors still receive extraordinary legal rights to sue governments for measures that may negatively affect their investments. These protections, which are not available to domestic investors or ordinary citizens, would expose taxpayers to huge financial liabilities and threaten to chill public policy. Although the text mentions a so-called right to regulate, the clause is a guideline and does not adequately protect public interest regulation.

- FINANCIAL SERVICES

By allowing more cross-border financial services and facilitating greater direct investment in the financial sector, CETA would encourage the financial industry to take greater risks—for example, by engaging in speculative investment—in order to survive in a more competitive international market. CETA would also limit the regulatory options available to governments to address financial instability by, among other measures, giving the financial industry an institutionalised voice in the regulatory process. Ignoring the lessons of the financial crisis, CETA would open the financial services sectors in the EU and Canada to greater competition and put downward pressure on prudential regulation in ways that make both Parties more vulnerable to financial shocks and contagion. Furthermore, key financial services provisions in CETA are enforceable through the ISDS mechanism, so governments could effectively be forced to pay banks for the privilege of regulating them.

- TRADE IN SERVICES

CETA would restrict governments’ capacity to regulate the entry and activity of foreign service suppliers in the domestic market, even when such regulations do not discriminate based on the country of origin of firms. By ensuring market access and preferential treatment for foreign service suppliers, CETA threatens the viability of public services and local service suppliers. CETA includes exceptions to the services rules, but its ‘negative list’ approach means that all services are covered by default unless specifically excluded by negotiators. Moreover, through its ‘standstill’ and ‘ratchet’ mechanisms, CETA forces governments to make any future regulatory decisions in the direction of even greater liberalisation, including for many of the services that are on the list of exceptions.

- PUBLIC SERVICES

While a limited number of public services are excluded from some of CETA’s liberalising provisions, key reservations are vaguely worded or flawed. The agreement’s investment protections would restrict the capacity of governments to expand public services or to create new ones in the future. CETA conflicts with the freedom of elected governments to bring privatised services back into the public sector. Once foreign investors are established in a privatised sector, efforts to restore public services can trigger claims for compensation, effectively locking in privatisation.

- DOMESTIC REGULATION

CETA would constrain policy flexibility in areas only loosely related to trade by mandating that licensing and qualification requirements—as well as any measure relating to those regulations—be ‘as simple as possible’. CETA interprets even non-discriminatory regulations as potential trade barriers. The scope of the domestic regulation provisions is broader than in other agreements and even trumps other areas in CETA. Regulations concerning not just services but also ‘all other economic activities’ are covered with only a narrow set of reservations.

- REGULATORY COOPERATION

CETA would create a set of institutions and processes for foreign governments (and their corporate lobbyists) to have a say in the creation of new domestic regulations, which could delay or halt the introduction of public interest legislation and undermine the precautionary principle. The range of regulatory areas covered by these rules is extensive, including not just goods and services, but also investment and other areas only loosely connected to trade. Any attempt to ‘harmonise’ regulations between the EU and Canada threatens to push standards down to the lowest common denominator. Moreover, business lobbyists could use this process to push for regulatory changes that are too controversial to be included in the text of CETA itself.

- INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS

CETA would strengthen the position of patent holders relative to innovators and consumers, which would encourage the already destructive practice of patent trolling in software and other industries. Because intellectual property is covered by the investor–state dispute mechanism in CETA, patent holders may be able to sue governments for future regulations designed to reduce the power of patent trolls. CETA does not directly threaten Internet freedom, but by locking in the current system of industry-friendly intellectual property rules in Canada and the EU, CETA would prevent governments from returning to a more user-friendly intellectual property regime in the future.

- AGRICULTURE

The ratification of CETA would be a severe setback for efforts to encourage non-industrial farming practices and sustainable agriculture on both sides of the Atlantic. For example, by expanding duty-free import quotas (e.g. for milk and meat), CETA would expose Canadian and European farmers to considerable competitive pressure, which could encourage more profitable (for some) but less sustainable farming practices. Furthermore, CETA raises concerns around processing and production standards, particularly in Europe. Practices that are considered safe in Canada, such as the surface treatment of meat with acetic acid, the use of hormones in beef production, and the use of genetically modified organisms, are restricted in the EU on the basis of the precautionary principle. Under CETA, those precautions could be attacked on the basis of the ‘aftercare principle’ employed in Canada’s ‘science-based’ regulatory approach. CETA also undercuts the current system of geographical indications for European products. Of the 1,308 food items, 2,883 wines and 332 liquors protected in the EU, only 173 are protected in the CETA text.

- CLIMATE AND ENERGY

CETA’s provisions for investment protection coupled with its weak protections for environmental and resource measures will undermine sustainable climate and energy policy in the future. Efforts to stop fossil fuel–based energy production and promote renewable energy will be threatened by CETA, which poses a grave danger to any measures put in place to reach the goals that the EU and Canada agreed to in the 2015 Paris Agreement. CETA lacks any provisions that clearly protect regulations and measures aimed at curbing climate change or promoting renewable energy from investor attacks. The agreement’s Trade and Sustainable Development chapter is thin and does not contain any concrete obligations for the Parties to develop future-oriented and climate-friendly policies.

- LABOUR RIGHTS

Despite its positive rhetoric regarding the rights of workers, CETA fails to introduce the kind of binding and enforceable labour provisions that would protect and improve labour standards in the EU and Canada. Several EU member states as well as Canada have not ratified some of the International Labour Organisation’s core labour standards or priority governance conventions. The CETA text encourages but does not obligate them to do so. Tellingly, the labour chapter in CETA is exempt from the general dispute settlement provisions of the agreement. In the event of a dispute over a labour standards violation, CETA merely requires the Parties to engage in non-binding consultations.

- CANADA - SPECIFIC CONCERNS

Most concerns about CETA are shared by Europeans and Canadians, but a handful of CETA’s impacts would be felt more negatively in Canada. Under CETA, Canada would be forced to make unilateral changes to its intellectual property regime for pharmaceuticals that would increase drug costs. For the first time in a Canadian trade agreement, CETA would apply restrictive procurement rules to municipal and provincial governments, which could undermine local and regional development initiatives. CETA could also come into conflict with the rights of Indigenous peoples, whose traditional lands are often the target of foreign resource companies. Other areas of Canadian concern include the impact of CETA on supply-managed agricultural sectors, and how the chapter on the temporary entry of business persons will affect the domestic labour market.

- RATIFICATION PROCESS

For the purposes of ratification in the EU, CETA has been presented as a ‘mixed’ agreement. This means that, following the decision of the Council of Ministers (expected autumn 2016) and the vote in the European Parliament (expected late 2016/early 2017), all 28 EU member states must ratify the treaty. Hower, the European Commission and many member states are pushing for ‘provisional implementation’ of CETA even before the national ratification processes. At all stages of the ratification process, CETA’s critics in Europe will have opportunities to organise against CETA’s implementation. Legal actions against the agreement have already started: CETA is being challenged before the European Court of Justice and, at the member state level, before the German Federal Constitutional Court. In Canada, CETA must be passed into law nationally before it comes into force, which will require the approval of both the elected federal Parliament and the appointed Senate. The current government is strongly in favour of CETA and will push for its ratification as early as autumn 2016, despite opposition from a variety of municipalities and public interest organisations.

Full analysis:

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Stock market: one of the biggest frauds in the age of financial capitalism

globinfo freexchange
Lee Camp speaks with Tan Liu about his revealing book The Ponzi Factor, where Liu exposes all the big fraud of the stock market. Liu explains why the stock market, especially today, in the era of financial capitalism, is the purest definition of a Ponzi scheme:
The issue, of course, is profits from stocks and what makes a stock price move, is not the earnings and growth. It is actually money from another investor. Now, is there a connection at all with respect to earnings and growth and this price movement? Yes, it's called a speculative connection. It is not a legal one. It is not a logical one. It is not a definitive, or, a mathematical one.
The SEC defines three basic features of a Ponzi scheme:
One, it is an investment scenario. Two, the investment profits come from other investors. Three, the investors think the profits come from somewhere else.
What we can clearly observe every single day, every single moment the stocks are trading, is an event where the stoc…

How a group of economists undermined public institutions, paving the way to neoliberalism

An assumption had become a truth. The self-interested model of human behaviour, that had been developed in the Cold War to make the mathematical equations work, had now been adopted by these economists as a fundamental truth about the reality of all human social interaction.
globinfo freexchange
A group of economists in the early 70s arbitrarily adopted the self-interested model of human behaviour that had been developed in the Cold War, to explain the dysfunctionality of public institutions. This perception would become a powerful tool in the hands of the neoliberal ideology, carried by big banks and corporations, to demonize the state and dismantle any state control upon them at the expense of the societies.
In his documentary The Trap, Adam Curtis explains:
In the early 70s, the government bureaucracies in Britain began to collapse. Those around them blamed a growing economic crisis, but it was clear that something much more fundamental had gone wrong. What were supposed to be institut…

Italy, Greece, Deutsche Bank: heavy clouds of non-linear collapse gather again above Europe

globinfo freexchange
For nearly ten years now, the key decision centers inside eurozone are trying to hide the huge problems, pretending that the crisis is behind, in order to maintain a completely failed economic model, which also reveals, day by day, its authoritarian nature and despise against real Democracy. The totally problematic structure of eurozone makes things even worse.
In Italy, we had another political crisis and a constitutional coup because the new majority and potential coalition government is not likeable to the Brussels/Berlin axis.
In Greece, things are not looking better. The country is about to exit the IMF-type neoliberal program imposed by the Troika (ECB, European Commission, IMF), in August. Yet, the economy is still in very bad shape, drowning in stagnation, with unprecedented unemployment, nearly zero growth and a national debt at 180% of GDP, which is actually much higher than Greece's debt in 2010 (120% of GDP) when crisis hit the country!
In fact, the eu…

More evidence that the 2011 riots in Syria were sparked by a false flag operation

globinfo freexchangeIndependent journalist Eva Bartlett spoke with Lee Camp about her recent trip in Syria. Bartlett visited the hospital in Douma where many victims of the latest alleged chemical attack went to receive medical care. Bartlett spoke with a medical student who was working the day of the alleged attack, and actually confirmed the reporting by the veteran journalist Robert Fisk, according to which there was no evidence of a chemical attack.
Bartlett also went to Daraa, where the first protests took place in 2011, and spoke to people there. They confirmed what many other investigative journalists support. 

This is strong evidence that it was a false flag operation that actually sparked the subsequent riots:
In the initial protest, Daraa was named as the birthplace of the so-called revolution. And Daraa is a city in the very south of Syria, not a very large city, and a rather unlikely city for a so-called revolution to have started. But prior going to Daraa, I interviewed a do…

WikiLeaks reveals Italian officials had serious concerns about Italy's ability to participate in the monetary union already since the late 70s

The WIKILEAKS Public Library of US Diplomacy (PlusD)holds the world's largest searchable collection of United States confidential, or formerly confidential, diplomatic communications. As of April 8, 2013 it holds 2 million records comprising approximately 1 billion words. The collection covers US involvements in, and diplomatic or intelligence reporting on, every country on earth. It is the single most significant body of geopolitical material ever published. The PlusD collection, built and curated by WikiLeaks, is updated from a variety of sources, including leaks, documents released under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and documents released by the US State Department systematic declassification review.
globinfo freexchange
A 1978 cable from the US Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs to the Secretary of State, was monitoring in detail the Italian serious concerns on the perspective of Italy joining the European monetary union. It describes an atmosphere of anxiety insi…

What happens when a country decides to decouple itself from the US/Saudi axis of evil

globinfo freexchange
The role of Qatar and Saudi Arabia in the Middle East chaos is quite well known. Recall that in aletter of the Podesta email series, John Podesta admitted that both Qatar and Saudi Arabia were helping ISIS. Podesta also mentioned that the US should exercise pressure to these countries in order to stop doing it: “... we need to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region.
Of course Hillary Clinton wouldn't do anything about this problem too, as in another letter of the Podesta email series, it was revealed that Bill Clinton was receiving "expensive gifts" from the Qataris!
As reported by Antimedia, in 2009 Qatar proposed a pipeline to run through Syria and Turkey to export Saudi gas. Assad rejected the proposal and instead formed an agreement with Iran and Ira…

How eurozone became a financial dictatorship

It all started with the silent coup against Ireland
globinfo freexchange
In 2010, Ireland experienced Frankfurt's political blackmail. On the 18th of November, where there was a governing council of the ECB in Frankfurt. The governor of the Irish central bank who sat on the governing council, called "Morning Ireland" which is the most important radio program in Ireland, to say that Ireland will need what he called a loan. He didn't warn the government about it and this created a massive panic.
Then, the next day, there was a letter written from the then president of ECB, Jean-Claude Trichet, to Brian Lenihan, the minister of finance at the time, saying that 'if you don't apply the so-called bailout program, by this opening of the markets the following Monday, we're going to cut off access to Emergency Liquidity Assistance (ELA)', which obviously would have collapsed the Irish banking system.
The ECB used the liquidity weapon in order to impose its terms o…

David Harvey: unless there is some real new thinking, another crisis is inevitable

globinfo freexchange
Chris Hedges spoke with David Harvey about the repeated crises of the capitalist system, which generate further instability, especially since the early 70s where we have the rise of financial capitalism and neoliberal ideology.
As Harvey points out:
Interestingly, in almost every crisis there has been a good deal of re-evaluation of exactly how to think about the economy, how to think about the relationship between state power and politics and all this kind of stuff.
Since 2007-08, is hardly any new thinking at all. And actually, we're trying to hang on. And we are trying to hang on because the oligarchy - which has all of the money, all of the power - is actually in a situation where it does not want any change. And until we confront the oligarchy, we're not going to find a way of exiting from this, apart from repeating what happened in 2007-08.
And the interesting thing when you look back, before 2007-08, and you see big financial crises in Argentina, in Braz…

Ecuador and Julian Assange in great danger as traitor Moreno is about to throw them into the hands of the US empire

Ecuador’s president, Lenín Moreno, shook up his cabinet and appointed six new ministers this week. The move appears to confirm what many of his critics on the Left have long suspected, which is that Moreno is moving the country increasingly towards the Right. That is, they say he is reversing the policies under the previous government, Rafael Correa, who pursued a fairly progressive agenda, particularly in foreign and economic affairs. For example, President Moreno’s new Minister of the Economy, Richard Martinez, comes directly from the country’s business class, where he worked as a consultant for the Chamber of Industry and Production, and he also was president of Ecuador’s Business Committee, which is the country’s main business association.
globinfo freexchange
Greg Wilpert of the Real News spoke with Guillaume Long, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ecuador under former President Rafael Correa, about the rapid turn of the new Ecuadorian administration towards neoliberal policies…

The facts about Venezuela’s May 20th Presidential Election

Despite a high level of election transparency, one that Jimmy Carter called “the best in the world”, the US and its allies have accused Venezuela of election fraud. Caleb Maupin breaks down how Venezuela’s electoral system really works.
by Caleb T. Maupin
Part 3 - Accusations of Fraud
Despite the stringent safeguards in place to protect Venezuela’s election integrity, international media based in Western countries have widely claimed the election was fraudulent. Those claiming that the results are illegitimate have cited prior statements from SmartMatic, a corporation based in London that manufactured Venezuela’s voting machines. An official statement from SmartMatic claimed the 2017 Constitutional Referendum vote showed “tamper evident.” Statements from SmartMatic have been vague about how exactly the results were illegitimate or what malpractice took place.
Tibisay Lucena, president of the National Elections Center (CNE), says the claims from SmartMatic and its Chief Executive Antonio …