Matt Carthy MEP and War on Want Senior Trade Officer Mark Dearn.
Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has said the battle against the provisional application and ratification of CETA has shifted to the national level, and that the Irish people have a unique role to play in this campaign.
The Sinn Féin MEP was speaking at a forum on economic sovereignty and free trade agreements in the European Parliament in Brussels last week, alongside War on Want Senior Trade Officer Mark Dearn.
Addressing the meeting, Carthy said: “We’ve had the recent vote in the European Parliament ratifying CETA and we know that the battle has now shifted to the national level across Europe, for provisional ratification and ratification by the national parliaments.
“We also know that immense pressure to support ratification will be applied to all national and regional parliaments across Europe – we only need to look at what happened in the lead-up to the vote in the European Parliament. The European Commission and others applied huge pressure on Belgium’s regional parliament, particularly Wallonia, in response to their democratic votes opposing the provisional application and ratification of CETA.
“It’s our role to ensure the pressure on MPs in national parliaments coming from the grassroots campaign is even more powerful than the pressure to ratify it.
“We have the opportunity now to stop CETA through campaigns in each of our countries. Civil society, NGOs and consumer groups across Ireland have criticised the weak protections in the CETA text for the environment, workers’ rights, public health, food safety and public procurement. Farmers across Ireland are alarmed at risks of CETA to Irish agriculture, especially the beef sector.
“For us in the Irish state the issue of the Investment Court System is the key due to our Constitution. We’re all well aware of what this will entail. Canadian-based corporations will have the right to sue national governments in Europe for compensation for loss of expected future profits in response to government actions that impact on the company’s activities in private tribunals.
“The proposed minor reforms of the investor-state dispute mechanism (ISDS) system into an Investment Court System (ICS) in CETA and TTIP do not address any of the substantive concerns that have been raised. The ICS awards foreign investors privileges in relation to all other actors in society.
Carthy continued: “Last year I commissioned a legal opinion from a senior counsel who has confirmed that Irish ratification of a free trade agreement that includes an ISDS or ICS will certainly infringe articles of our Constitution. This means a referendum on CETA must be held.
“Now we need a renewed push by activists and civil society to mobilise and demand that the Dáil stops the provisional application of CETA and rejects its ratification. The Irish people need to have their say on the ICS in a referendum – and the possibility of ensuring this goes to a vote of the people puts us in a unique position to block CETA in Ireland.”