CETA’s failure is a win for democracy

October 21, 2016

The Canadian Labour Congress says that the European Union and Canada failed to reach a deal on CETA because negotiators failed to take the concerns of unions and civil society seriously.

“These talks failed because governments on both sides of the Atlantic chose not to seriously address the concerns we put on the table when the text first became public months ago,” said CLC president Hassan Yussuff.

In May 2016, the CLC and the European Trade Union Confederation issued a joint statement calling for concrete changes to CETA:

  • Removing investor courts and ISDS mechanisms;
  • Ensuring effective enforcement of labour and environmental rights;
  • Protection for public services through a “positive list;” and
  • The right for local governments to attach social, economic and environmental conditions to public procurement.

“This deal failed because the government in Wallonia raised those very same concerns, especially around the investor court, which has been very controversial throughout the EU and here at home,” said Yussuff.

Last minute attempts to address those concerns with an interpretative declaration failed because it wasn’t comprehensive enough and would not have been legally binding, he said.

“Any attempt to seriously address labour and civil society concerns must be legally binding. If it doesn’t override the flaws in the text, it isn’t much use to anyone,” said Yussuff.

“I hope Canada takes this opportunity to rethink its approach to trade, as one that is about fair trade,” he added.