CETA: More Corporate Poison In A Fancier Bottle

stop_ceta

The BBC, along with other media outlets, has been attempting to whitewash a trade deal (ostensibly between the E.U. and Canada) known as CETA, and bemoaning the fact that after nine years of negotiation one small enclave of Belgium is preventing the ‘Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement’ from becoming a working reality.

Media outlets that represent the people, rather than big business, are lauding the efforts of the Belgium region of Walloon (pop: 3.6 million) in blocking CETA, even though the E.U. Commission is desperate to go ahead with the deal.

Others, like the German nationalistic news Service, DW, print lies to try and demolish opposition to CETA:

It is an extraordinary political spectacle: a region that makes up only 0.7 percent of the European Union population is holding the rest of the half-a-billion people in the bloc hostage…[1]

Well, that might be true if the “half-a-billion people in the bloc” were in favour of it. According to polls, most of them aren’t.

Or, Tim Worstall writing in Forbes:

Euro-crises have a habit of working this way. Some region, country, states that such and such will never happen and everyone scrambles around for a few days shouting at each other. At which point some deal to build a bridge with EU money, locate a European ministry or some such is announced and the grumbles all go away. At best this is the way that the arguments about Ceta are going to resolve. At worst, of course, everyone might actually obey the law as it is and allow Wallonia, that region of 3.5 million people, to deny the benefits of free trade between Canada and the EU to the other 500 million of the EU and the 35 million of Canada. [2]

Again, apparently, we poor folk are missing out on this great deal because a few million European plonkers are holding us to ransom.

There are some who will benefit from these so-called ‘trade agreements’. The well-off business people and corporate executives of this world stand to become much wealthier and more powerful at the expense of us ordinary folk. People like Carolyn Fairbairn, for example.

In an article on its website from June this year (one week prior to the E.U. referendum), the BBC argued the case for CETA by quoting the mouthpiece of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), Carolyn Fairbairn.

fairbairn

Fairbairn is exactly the right person to ask about CETA, if all you want is gushing praise for the trade agreement. She just happens to be an ex-BBC executive, an ex-ITV (second-largest U.K. TV company) executive, an ex-Lloyds Bank executive, an ex-Financial Services Authority (FSA) executive, is now Director-General of the Confederation of British Industry, and is married to a multi-millionaire property developer – who just happens to be Canadian.

She’s not the ideal personage for the BBC to call on to give unbiased advice to the British public on a highly controversial trade deal with Canada. Also, what she says makes no sense at all. Note the quote attached to the above image:

The Leave campaign has said we should be more like Switzerland, Norway, Canada, or even perhaps Albania, but all these countries say they’d rather be like the UK. [3]

How can the countries she mentioned “…be more like the UK.”? The U.K. was still a full member of the E.U. and the referendum a week away when this was said. Is she suggesting Norway and Switzerland would prefer to be full members of the E.U.? No, she’s obviously not suggesting any such thing. This is Fairbairn’s ‘plausible propaganda’ designed to persuade the British people that CETA would be right for them, even if they decide to leave the European Union.

Far-right Tory government ministers, members of the Brexit campaign, were already lauding the agreement as great for Britain if it left the E.U., as the BBC quotes:

According to Conservative MP David Davis, Ceta “would be a perfectly good starting point for our discussions with the Commission”.
Ex-London mayor Boris Johnson [now Foreign Secretary] has also praised the Ceta model.

So why is CETA a bad deal for everyone, except the corporations? ‘War On Want’ explains:

CETA is a major new business deal that was negotiated in secret between the EU and Canada over five years from 2009 to 2014. It stands for the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, and it represents one of the ‘new generation’ of trade treaties on behalf of big business that are set to undermine our democracy and destroy our basic rights…

… CETA is a backdoor for TTIP, the horrific EU-US deal that has generated so much anger and opposition across Europe and the UK, and became a major referendum issue.

Negotiations on CETA started back in 2009, and concluded with a ceremony in Ottawa in September 2014. A number of EU governments were unhappy with the final text agreed by the negotiators, but it was rushed through regardless. No MPs or MEPs were allowed to take part in the talks, which took place in secret, and no one was granted access to the text of the agreement until it was too late. Key elements of our public services have been bargained away without a shred of public debate.

CETA includes the toxic investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism, which allows companies to sue governments over any new law or policy that might reduce their profits in future. In a public consultation held in Europe, over 97% of respondents rejected the introduction of this new power for business. Yet the EU has gone ahead with it anyway, and CETA will introduce ISDS not only for Canadian companies but also for any US firms with offices in Canada (which is most of them).[4]

The real crux of the matter is in the last line. While this is a Canadian-E.U. agreement (designed to make us all feel more secure about it) it will include any other businesses with offices in Canada, and that means virtually every major corporate conglomerate in existence.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) failed to pass because public pressure binned it. Waiting in the wings was CETA, a more clandestine approach designed to kid us all into believing it was less toxic than the TTIP. It isn’t. It’s the TTIP cloaked under another name.

We need to send a clear message that the people of Europe want no more of these dirty deals.

And that includes the people of the rest of the world, including the United States, who will soon have the Trans-Pacific Partnership (note the word ‘Trade’ has now been dropped) thrust upon them if Clinton gains control of the White House.

[1] “Opinion: The EU’s Walloon CETA disaster” DW, October 21st 2016

[2] “Plucky Little Wallonia Is Still Blocking The Canada – EU Trade Deal, Ceta” Forbes, October 22nd 2016

[3] “Reality Check: Would Canada’s deal with the EU be a good model for the UK?” BBC, June 17th 2016

[4] “What Is CETA?” War On Want, undated