First European Parliament NO vote to CETA from the employment committee
Yesterday the Employment and Social Affairs committee of the European Parliament voted to reject the notorious EU-Canada (CETA) trade deal because of the negative impact it would have on workers.
While this vote was not binding – the vote on whether to accept the deal will ultimately be made in the European Parliament at the start of February, yesterday’s vote sends out an important signal that MEPs from across the political spectrum oppose CETA.
The TUC is calling for all UK MEPs to join their colleagues in the employment committee and reject CETA.
CETA represents a broken approach towards trade deals that must not be used as a template for our future negotiations over a future EU-UK deal.
If a post Brexit deal looked like CETA it would mean trade unions locked out of the negotiation process and a deal that would open up public services to further privatisation to public services, contain no binding protections for workers rights and give foreign corporations powers to sue our government. Incidentally, many businesses would not be happy with a CETA-style Brexit deal either, as CETA doesn’t provide the kind of barrier free access to trade you can get with single market membership. Single market membership is also what the TUC is calling for in a report we released this week as, among other things, it provides the best option for our economy and way to protect employment and social rights.
The Employment Committee’s opinion rejecting CETA is important for highlighting a number of the threats CETA poses to workers. Here’s what it had to say on –
Threats to workers:
- Studies [like this one] project over 200 000 jobs may be lost from CETA and it would contribute to widening income gaps between unskilled and skilled workers
- The deal contains no way for workers to enforce labour rights
Threats to workers in the Global South
- The deal will divert trade away from developing countries which will increase inequalities in these countries and make it harder for their governments to stimulate decent jobs.
Threats to democracy
- There are serious doubts whether the Investment Court System – the special court which allows foreign investors to sue governments for actions they believe threaten their future profits – is compatible with European Law
The US election and the concerns raised by a broad range of civil society groups against TTIP and CETA show the extent to which the public does not feel trade deals are being negotiated in their interest.
Rather than the protectionism proposed by the incoming US administration to respond to these concerns, a new approach towards trade negotiations is needed which has workers’ rights and social protection at its heart.
MEPs should use the upcoming vote on CETA to call for this change, and reject a deal that stands to harm the very disaffected communities mainstream parties are desperately anxious to win back.
Trade unions must be meaningfully involved in trade negotiations from the start to ensure trade deals are not used to strip away important protections for public services and rights. As the employment committee has highlighted, it is important for negotiations to create decent jobs and shared gains across the workforce, not just profit, and empower even more, a few multinational corporations.