Over the weekend, thousands of protesters across multiple countries condemned impending trade deals promoted by governments and their corporate partners. Though the protests received little coverage from mainstream media, they stretched from Paris to Warsaw.
The demonstrations came amid the Commission on International Trade of the European Parliament’s plans to finalize the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) this week. The policy has been likened to so-called “free trade” deals pushed by President Barack Obama and other Western governments.
CETA, which has been in the works for seven years, would eliminate tariffs between Canada and European nations, which proponents argue would foster increased trade and create jobs. Nevertheless, the deal has been criticized for granting too much power to multinational corporations, the Guardian reports.
Though the European Commission recently drafted a statement claiming “environmental and health standards will not be diluted,” not all policymakers are convinced.
Passage of CETA hit a roadblock after the parliament of the Wallonia region of Belgium rejected it. Wallonia’s minister-president, Paul Magnette, vowed to block the entire country from ratifying the deal. This has proponents of CETA concerned about the agreement’s future, as all 28 member states of the European Union must unanimously agree on it before it can be further negotiated and ratified.