European Court of Justice puts the brakes on European Commission trade deals
Finally, some good news on the major trade deals that are now being negotiated by the European Commission on behalf of all us in the EU, the likes of TTIP (with the USA), CETA (with Canada), Mercosur (with South American countries).
Though they are of major importance, will directly affect all our lives, most of you are unaware of those deals - this is quite deliberate, in keeping with the Commission’s arrogant attitude that they know what’s best for us all, that democracy within the EU is merely a nuisance. And so, behind closed doors and with input primarily from multinational conglomerates, those megadeals are negotiated and agreed then presented to us all as a fait accompli.
Today, however, following a ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ), the Commission’s ambitions suffered a serious set-back. Following on quickly from its decision last week that the same Commission had been wrong to ignore the Citizens’ Initiative on TTIP and CETA (despite having been signed by over 3m people from Member States right across the EU, the Commission decided that this didn’t matter, that those same citizens had no rights in the area of trade negotiations - the ECJ disagreed), the court issued its decision on what can be seen as a test-case for all those trade deals, the proposed agreement with Singapore.
In its press release, the ECJ couldn’t have been more clear. ‘The free trade agreement with Singapore cannot, in its current form, be concluded by the European Union alone. The provisions of the agreement relating to non-direct foreign investment and those relating to dispute settlement between investors and States (the so-called ISDS clauses) do not fall within the exclusive competence of the European Union, so that the agreement cannot, as it stands, be concluded without the participation of the Member States.’
What this means, in essence, is that because TTIP, CETA and all the other major deals being negotiated ALL contain ISDS clauses (Investor-State Dispute Settlement), they will now all have to be voted on AND APPROVED by each individual Member State.
This doesn’t mean that the fight to end those so-called trade agreements is over. If it was just about trade there would be far fewer objections but this is in fact far more about removing our protections in the fields of labour, food quality, public services and so on, and about facilitating the greediest of the MNCs (they’re not all cut from the same cloth) in their drive to reduce the ability of governments to legislate on behalf of the people. But it is good news, very good news, and it’s up to all of us now who are concerned about those deals to continue this fight within our own countries.
NOTE: Given that they stand four-square with the Commission on all these trade deals, our own government will of course immediately launch an appeal against this ECJ decision.
MEP Luke Ming Flanagan
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