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European Parliament planning to vote in the dark on CETA - Carthy

11 November, 2016 - by Matt Carthy MEP

Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West, Matt Carthy has harshly criticised the European Commission’s insistence to push ahead with the timeline of their trade deal with Canada, CETA, despite crucial elements of the agreement being reserved for so-called ‘retrofitting’.

Matt Carthy said:

“When Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor went to Brussels to sign CETA last month, many assumed that the case was closed. This week, however the European Commission confirmed that crucial elements of the agreement have yet to be agreed in the controversial Chapter on Investment Protection.

“This arises because of the refusal of the Walloon Parliament to ratify CETA without a modification to the Investment Court System (ICS). When pressed by MEPs to clarify what exactly would be changed, the European Commission stated that this was a work in progress and that some open issues would be “retrofitted” early next year. This is ludicrous because the strict timetable set for vote in the European Parliament means that MEPs are expected to vote on the deal before these elements have been finalised.

“Furthermore, with a crucial judgement still pending in the European Court of Justice over what elements of a mixed-competence trade agreement can be provisionally applied, MEPs have no idea what elements of the deal they will actually be voting for to take effect. The entire process flies in the face of democracy!

“Now not only have Parliamentary Committees been denied the right to produce a full Resolution on the effect this trade agreement would have on their respective sectors, but they are also being asked to vote on a text that has not yet been finalised due to review clauses left open and of which elements are currently being scrutinised by a Court of Law.

“Perhaps even more bizarrely, the Commission has attempted to assure farmers that it is extremely doubtful that the safeguard clause for agricultural imports will ever have to be triggered because of the carefully negotiated tariff rate quotas. However it is now reported that the Canadian government has announced that it will invest $350m (€238m) to help its dairy farmers compete against increased EU imports.  If these two things don’t completely contradict each other then the Commission must have buried its head further underground that we first thought.

“With the publication of a crucial report on the cumulative effects of trade agreements on Europe’s agricultural sector due for publication next week, I hope farmers will finally get the truth they deserve.

“With all these issues in mind it seems to me that the most appropriate course of action for MEPs would be to reject the provisional application of CETA and allow national parliaments the opportunity to debate and vote on the deal before any movement is instigated”.

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