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Thursday 16th
posted by Peter Lazenby in Britain

Hugely unpopular EU-Canada trade deal clears big hurdle

THE European Parliament approved a toxic international trade deal with Canada yesterday, disregarding the will of millions of people who campaigned against it.

MEPs voted by 408 to 254 to ratify the Comprehensive and Economic Trade Agreement (Ceta) despite crowds protesting outside.

The EU-Canada deal gives transnational corporations the right to sue governments if they enact legislation that could hit profits, for example by setting a minimum wage or creating health and safety regulations.

Ceta will establish an unaccountable international court and force governments to offer public services, including the NHS, to the private sector.

The deal still has to be accepted by the governments of EU member countries, but the British government has refused to allow Parliament to debate the deal.

Global Justice Now director Nick Dearden said: “Over three million people across Europe signed a petition calling for Ceta to be scrapped, while hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of cities like Berlin saying they wanted no part of this toxic trade deal.

“So it’s shameful that so many MEPs in voting for Ceta have come down in favour of the army of corporate lobbyists that have been howling for this deal rather than the voices of the ordinary people that they are supposed to represent.

“MEPs may have voted in favour of Ceta today, but that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the story.

“The strength of public opposition to the deal meant that the EU Commission conceded that national parliaments must agree before it comes into full effect, and there’s every chance that that won’t happen in countries like Austria and Belgium.

“We will continue to fight to stop Ceta being ratified in Westminster, something that will require MPs to take their role seriously.”

A number of prominent British MEPs, including from the Scottish National Party and Labour, voted against the deal.

Among them was Labour MEP Afzal Khan, who said before the vote: “We can’t have large corporations being able to sue governments for affecting future profits or having their own separate court system.”

War on Want senior trade campaigner Mark Dearn added: “The role of the UK government on Ceta has been nothing short of appalling.

“It bypassed parliamentary scrutiny to sign us up to Ceta and has presented, at best, questionable claims on Ceta’s impacts on the UK which no-one has ever seen.”

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