European Parliament approves CETA: Keep an eye on worker rights and public services

In a plenary vote today, the European Parliament approved the EU-Canada CETA free trade and investment deal. CETA can therefore come into force provisionally as of April 2017 (except for the area of investment protection), yet has to be approved by national parliaments as well in order to become fully applicable. CESI Secretary General Klaus Heeger calls for a careful scrutiny of worker rights and public services under the agreement.

Generally, CESI welcomes the conclusion of comprehensive trade agreements as a tool to promote growth and wealth, but only if they do not undermine European minimum standards in terms of labour and core social rights, and only if they protect public services in the spirit of the (TTIP-related) EU-US joint statement on public services of March 2015.

Secretary General Klaus Heeger said: “It is now more likely than ever before that there will be a fully-fledged CETA soon. This is a fact we should all acknowledge. In the future, together with our member organisation, it will be key for us to keep a close eye on impacts of CETA on labour and social rights.

All social partners should be involved in an ongoing, formalised monitoring process.”

Klaus Heeger added: “A CETA monitoring process should also include consequences of the agreement on public services. CESI has highlighted for long that public services should enjoy special protection under free trade and investment agreements, as the European Parliament also requested in its previous own-initiative report on TTIP.”

For CESI, it also remains of fundamental importance that the proposed investment court system (ICS) (that ‘would replace the investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism and which is not yet subject to provisional application) will neither undermine democratic principles and the provision of public services, nor lead to a lowering of consumer, environment and workers´ protection standards.

“This will have to be closely monitored by CESI and its member organisations in the coming months”, the CESI Secretary General concluded.

More information about CESI’s position on CETA and free trade and investment agreements more generally can be accessed in a position paper on CESI’s website.

Picture: Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, in the European Parliament in Brussels © European Union 2016/EC Audiovisual Service/Melanie Wenger