European and Canadian trade unions agree: "CETA needs more work"

Hassan Yussuf and Luca Visentini – President and General Secretary of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) and the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) respectively – today signed and issued a joint statement on “what needs to be changed” in CETA – the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement.

The trade unions on both sides of the Atlantic agree that 5 key changes are needed to the CETA text negotiated in secret and “allegedly no longer open for debate”.

The 5 changes are:

  • Drop the “VIP process for foreign investors” in an agreement between countries “with fully developed and effective court systems”. 
  • Violations of CETA’s labour provisions should “be subject to its dispute settlement process and punishable ultimately with sanctions”. The trade unions’ joint statement notes that “the privileged status for investors stands in sharp contrast with the very mild labour standard provisions which have no enforcement mechanism”.
  • Ensure that new services are not subject to “liberalisation by default” as a result of the so-called ‘negative list’ of services which are excluded from liberalisation. The trade unions state “no sensible government can reasonably make such a commitment”.
  • Categorically exclude public services from liberalisation.
  • Delete “unconditional” access of foreign firms to public procurement contracts. While open to foreign firms bidding for contracts, the trade unions argue that “local governments should have the ability to attach social and environmental conditions to their public tenders”.

The statement concludes:

“The changes recently made to ISDS provisions show it is possible and legitimate for reasonable partners to improve the CETA”, and that “unless the text is adjusted to meet our concerns, we will have to call on our elected officials to reject the CETA”.