Greens now in favor of controversial free trade agreement

“Both CETA and Energy Charter Treaty are climate killers!”

(Brussels/08.07.2022) After years of campaigning by environmental associations and political parties such as the ÖDP, the fight against the planned Free trade agreement between the EU and Canada (CETA) unfortunately appears to be lost. Bündnis 90/Die Grünen have announced that they will no longer block ratification. This clears the way for an agreement that, among other things, allows undemocratic arbitration tribunals and far-reaching liberalization provisions for public services.

Manuela Ripa, Member of the European Parliament for the Ecological Democratic Party, notes: “CETA represents regressive and unfair trade. This agreement was drafted behind closed doors by corporate lobbyists without the approval of the citizens and it threatens to deprive the state and especially the municipalities of democratic decisions. The announced renegotiations on investment protection in CETA are a mere show event, as it is already known in advance that the text of the agreement will not be changed. This establishes a parallel justice system in the form of arbitration tribunals, which undermines confidence in the rule of law. The argument that the Russian aggression against Ukraine increases the need for closer economic cooperation with democracies like Canada should speak against it because CETA itself undermines basic democratic principles. After all, the secretive CETA committee can fundamentally change the agreement by bypassing governments and parliaments – even after ratification.

The ÖDP politician also fears that CETA will enable a dumping competition that will increase the pressure on rural agriculture and that would have a detrimental effect on ecological standards. “EU standards for environmental protection for food safety will be undermined by CETA, and the European precautionary principle will, unfortunately, be undermined as a result. Nevertheless, the CETA agreement is also a disaster for climate protection. For example, it will massively increase trade in Canadian tar sands oil, which is extremely harmful to the climate. In view of the current crises and climate change, the agreement is behind the times. We need to localize and strengthen regional cycles instead of doing exactly the opposite,” says Manuela Ripa.

The MEP also criticizes the fact that the ratification text is now to be rushed through the Bundestag. “Apparently, the traffic light government wants to use the vacation season to pass the extremely unpopular free trade agreement as quickly and quietly as possible. Thus, however, civil society has no opportunity to criticize the process. Unfortunately, this speaks of their bad style.”

As the ratification bill is to be introduced in the Bundestag before the parliamentary summer break, the ÖDP politician calls on citizens to express their displeasure with the ratification process and their protest against CETA as a whole to their representatives in the Bundestag.

Unfortunately, the non-transparent and undemocratic arbitration courts are also a problem related to the Energy Charter. Therefore, it is regrettable that the intended reform of the Treaty has recently failed. The Energy Charter Treaty dates back to the 1990s and was intended to integrate the energy sectors of the countries of Eastern Europe into the European and global markets after the end of the Cold War. The reform was actually intended to ensure that the Treaty would not stand in the way of the necessary energy transition and the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. However, only cosmetic reforms were agreed on. Since the Energy Charter Treaty continues to protect investments in oil, gas, and coal for many more years – also through the harmful investor-state dispute settlement procedure – it is an obvious climate killer similar to CETA, which promotes the tar sands oil trade.

Manuela Ripa comments: “Not only the climate emergency but also Russia’s war against Ukraine have made it clear that we need a rapid energy transition. We must finally overcome our addiction to fossil fuels, both to make ourselves independent of blackmailing autocrats and to ensure the survival of our planet. The Energy Charter Treaty is therefore unfortunately counterproductive.”

Consequently, MEP calls on the German government to withdraw from the Treaty and to encourage as many other states as possible to do the same. This should of course be carried out in a legally certain manner.