In Multipolarity

By Raf Casert, The Associated Press, Sept. 20, 2016

Thousands protest in Brussels on Sept 20, 2016 against TTIP and CETA investment deal proposals (Eric Vidal, Reuters)

Thousands protest in Brussels on Sept 20, 2016 against TTIP and CETA investment deal proposals (Eric Vidal, Reuters)

Thousands of demonstrators marched at the European Union headquarters on Tuesday to protest transatlantic trade talks with the United States and a planned deal with Canada, claiming they would hurt labour and consumer rights while undermining environmental protection.

Representatives of unions, social organizations and human rights and farming groups snarled evening rush-hour traffic in the heart of the Belgian capital, hoping the talks with Washington on the socalled TTIP trade deal fail to get enough European backing.

They also hope there will be enough of a groundswell of opposition to make sure that the CETA deal with Canada doesn’t get the necessary parliamentary approvals in EU member states.

Protest in Brussels on Sept 20, 2016 against proposed int'l investment deals (Virginia Mayo, AP)

Protest in Brussels on Sept 20, 2016 against proposed int’l investment deals (Virginia Mayo, AP)

Canada and the European Union hope to sign the deal next month in Brussels. Though it would still need the be approved by the EU’s member countries, Canadian and EU officials have said that vast majority of the deal — as much as 90 per cent — could come into force sometime early next year.

Backers of both deals say they will be essential in boosting trade and jobs in the future. But outside the EU headquarters Tuesday, the talk was different.

“We are against these trade deals because they are a threat for the environment, for health, for labour regulations and they give so much power to multinational corporations,” Greenpeace Europe spokesman Mark Brady said.

Well over 100,000 demonstrators had already come out in a half-dozen German cities over the weekend to press the same point.

EU trade ministers will be discussing both the TTIP and CETA at their informal meeting in Bratislava, Slovakia, on Friday and EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom was hoping for strong backing for the Canadian deal, which is finished but still needs approval.

“Canada is a country that, more than most others around the world, shares our European values,” Malmstrom told the Belgian parliament Wednesday. “To put it another way, Canada is not the United States.”

Business also strongly backs the deal with Canada. Luisa Santos, director for international relations at the BusinessEurope federation, stressed that “CETA is not going to impose (on) us to eat hormone beef or hormone chicken or chlorinated chicken, these kind of things.”

Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland issued a joint statement alongside German Economic Affairs Minister Sigmar Gabriel that sang the praises of the agreement, saying it would improve free trade, streamline dispute resolution and eliminate barriers to trade.

The statement also acknowledged the concerns of both the German Trade Union Federation and the Canadian Labour Congress, both of which oppose the deal. The deal provides for “comprehensive rules to protect workers’ rights,” establishes a “new global standard” for sustainability and protects public services, the statement said.

Read also:
Tens of thousands rally across Germany against proposed TTIP and CETA investment treaties, reports on and Deutsche Welle, Sept 17, 2016



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