15th August 2014

EU-Canada free trade deal leaks

Following last week´s reports by insiders that the EU-Canada free trade agreement (CETA) has been finalized and is due to be unveiled in September, the reportedly final version of the deal has leaked to the public. As insiders indicated during the last weeks, clauses on investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) have long been the key problem in the negotiations mainly for Germany, but for many NGOs and think tanks as well. The clauses meant to protect foreign investments were to enable investors to call on a private arbitration panel to settle future disputes. In extreme case, this panel could substantially limit the guest state in its legislation powers. Germany was said to be uneasy mainly about its possible impact on environmental and consumer protection legislation. Viewed in the light of the currently negotiated TTIP, CETA is seen as a scratchpad, where all such details should be tested in order to gain the public´s trust in the outcome of the TTIP. That is why the Commission opened a big public consultation on the ISDS in the CETA. However, as the leaked CETA text shows, the ISDS mechanism wording is substantially unchanged from the previous draft. That would mean that the consultation had no effect at all. If this were true and the final text does not at all reflect any of the 150,000 proposed amendments to the ISDS, TTIP could be put in question. Many are uneasy about TTIP even today, also in the European Parliament. MEPs need to ratify both agreements if they are to come into force. Also the Commission President-elect Jean-Claude Juncker has shared his views on the ISDS. He stated that no special arbitration panels should be needed in a rule-of-law-based system with independent judiciary. Canadian media have meanwhile reported, that the ISDS clauses will likely be changed to address European concerns.

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Members of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Czech Republic