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Jean Lambert London's Green MEP

Greens demand ‘toxic trade deal’ be examined by European Court of Justice

22nd November 2016

Greens will tomorrow present a motion to the European Parliament calling for the CETA trade deal between the EU and Canada to be examined by judges of the European Court of Justice (ECJ).  As well as the potential negative social and environmental impacts of the Free Trade Agreement, Greens believe that there is legal uncertainty as to whether the proposed agreement is compatible with certain EU Treaties.

In particular, the proposed Investor Court System (ICS) would enable corporations to sue governments for passing legislation that could harm their profits. Greens believe that such a system should be subjected to proper legal scrutiny by the ECJ before coming into force to ensure it is compatible with existing EU treaties and laws.

A vote for a debate ahead of the vote has already been rejected, with Conservative and some Labour MEPs voting against. Tory MEPs have already indicated they will vote against sending CETA to the ECJ.

Jean Lambert, Green MEP for London, said:

“No member of the European Parliament should be able to vote in good faith on the controversial EU-Canada trade deal without putting it through proper legal examination. Legal certainty on the deal should be of the utmost importance, especially for British MEPs as it will set a precedent for future trade deals including future UK deals outside the EU.

“Too many Governments and politicians seem to want to push this dodgy deal through no matter what – this is the wrong approach. Greens believe it’s time to forget CETA and deals like it which give more power to transnational corporations and weaken important protections and instead embrace a different kind of trade that improves workers’ rights, protects the environment, and enables the transition to a more sustainable and equal economy.” ​

Molly Scott Cato, Green MEP for the South West, said:

“It seems like the government’s interpretation of ‘Take back control’ is to stifle debate and try and block courts from making rulings on issues of national and international significance.

“I was shocked that Conservative MEPs voted to prevent the European Parliament having a full debate on this crucial issue of whether private corporate courts break EU law. The system of secret, corporate courts proposed within CETA represents a massive corporate power grab. These courts are likely to have a chilling effect on governments seeking to improve social and environmental standards, so it is crucial that this dodgy proposal receives legal scrutiny.

“Having been bruised by the courts over article 50, it seems the government are running scared of democracy.” 

Keith Taylor, Green MEP for the South East, 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.

“The ‘Investment Court System’ clause within CETA poses a fundamental democratic question: do we want national parliaments to retain the power to legislate on behalf of their citizens or do we want to surrender that power to help boost the profit margins of multinational corporations?”

“It is doubly concerning that Theresa May and her Ministers are still vehemently supporting the deal. It signals a desire to ensure Britain remains bound by the deal even after departing from the EU. It also sets a worrying precedent for the kinds of toxic trade deals desperate Ministers will sign once the UK is outside of the EU.”

Briefing: Stop Toxic Trade September 2016