Over 80 European and Canadian organizations demand an end to Canada-EU free-trade talks

October 20, 2011

Ottawa, October 20, 2011 – Today, as a 9th round of Canada-EU free trade talks comes to an end in Ottawa, over 80 European and Canadian civil society groups demanded that political leaders on both sides of the Atlantic stop negotiating the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and release the offers now.

“Our organizations say NO to this agreement, which has been negotiated for the sole benefit of transnational corporations at the expense of people’s rights and of the protection of the environment,” says the declaration.

“Neither the European Union nor Canada has ever informed their populations of what is really at stake in these negotiations,” it continues. “Requests and offers from each party have never been discussed nor revealed to the public. These negotiations are thus clearly a total denial of democracy.”

Today, International Trade Minister Ed Fast announced that Canada and the EU had successfully exchanged offers on services and investment. This follows an exchange of provincial and EU member state procurement and goods offers during the last round in Brussels this past July. Neither set of offers will be made public or subject to debate prior to the signing of a final deal, which the Harper government has said it would like to do early in 2012.

The joint statement released today by Canadian and European civil society concludes that “trade agreements must promote cooperation and recognize common well-being, public interest, and human and environmental rights as more important than short-term private interests which benefit only transnational corporations.” Instead, CETA “would encourage the privatization of the public sector, weaken and prevent social, health and environmental regulations, and protect investors’ rights at the expense of democratic rights.

“We therefore ask Canadian federal and provincial representatives, as well as representatives from the European Parliament and from the different national parliaments to refuse to ratify the CETA, and to act in total transparency regarding this agreement which is selling off our social rights, threatening environmental regulations and, more generally speaking, democracy itself.”

To read the statement, entitled “Free-trade agreement between the European Union and Canada: Corporations Must Not Make the Law,” see http://tradejustice.ca.