Green MEP warns Brexit is no escape from toxic trade deals as CETA gets the green-light

Keith Taylor MEP is warning that Brexit will not free the UK from toxic trade deals as the European Parliament votes to green-light CETA, the controversial EU-Canada trade deal.

The deal, which has been long opposed by trade justice campaigners, trade unions, European Green Parties and millions of citizens in the EU and Canada, was voted through by a majority of MEPs during a plenary session in Strasbourg today.

Greens/EFA MEPs were among the only UK representatives to vote against the deal. Conservative and Lib Dem MEPs are expected to have voted to support CETA* with a number of Labour MEPs expected to have joined them* despite pressure from trade unions, the Shadow Minister for International Trade, and even the Party’s own Head of Trade Policy.

Opposition to CETA has focused primarily on the provision to allow multinational corporations to sue democratically elected governments in ‘extrajudicial’ and ‘secretive’ courts if they feel their financial interests are threatened by any policies enacted by those governments.

Greens have also argued that the trade deal will be bad for workers’ rights, climate action, animal welfare, and chemical and product safety.

Keith Taylor, Green MEP for the South East and a member of the European Parliament’s Environment committee, said:

“CETA is a bad deal for the people of Britain, Europe, and even Canada, but a great deal for multinational corporations keen to escape the democratic oversight of national parliaments. It is little wonder that it is citizens across Europe and in North America that are the loudest and more determined opponents of this toxic trade deal.”

“Canada has a long track record of taking legal action against European countries’ environmental laws and is fundamentally opposed to high chemical and pesticide safety legislation. Canada is also home to more than half of the world’s mining companies and pursues an active policy of exporting fuels derived from highly polluting tar sands. In that context, it is extremely worrying that CETA’s ‘commitments’ on environmental standards remain unenforceable. Greens will continue to oppose any agreements that lock us into fossil fuel dependence and damage our climate goals.”

“There are many other problems too, which is why Green MEPs highlighted 12 Reasons to oppose CETA, and why we voted against it today in the European Parliament. It’s extremely regrettable that a majority of MEPs didn’t heed our concerns, and have instead today voted for CETA to go ahead. It’s now up to national parliaments across Europe to take action to block this damaging deal.”

Conservative MEP Charles Tannock reiterated during the debate in Strasbourg that the UK Government sees CETA as a model for future UK trade deals. Keith continued:

“Conservatives in the European and UK Parliaments have been the biggest cheerleaders for CETA, and they are hoping the deal will still apply to Britain post-Brexit, and, most concerningly, the Minister for Trade, Liam Fox, has even put CETA forward as a model for future UK trade deals. It is clear that Brexit will not free Britain from toxic trade deals.”

Notes

* Roll call vote results are yet to be published.