21:43 GMT +320 October 2019
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    CETA: French MPs Want to Stop 'Anti-Democratic' Free Trade Deal

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    Over 100 French leftist lawmakers have signed a motion demanding the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the European Union and Canada be referred to the Constitutional Court over what they say is an issue of sovereignty.

    A political agreement on CETA was reached in 2013. Although the deal was passed through the European Parliament, it still has to be ratified by all the 28 EU member states' parliaments.

    A letter signed by 106 leftist members of France's National Assembly said the deal implied a transfer of sovereignty by signatory countries "beyond what they agreed upon in favor of the EU."

    Andre Chassaigne, the leader of the Democratic and Republican Left (GDR) parliamentary group, told Sputnik French: "It’s unclear who will win the presidential election. We don’t know whether we’ll have an ultra-liberal society with a liberalized exchange of goods. This is the point. So, we decided to accelerate the process."

    "The agreement will further facilitate commercial ties between Canada and the EU and impose an arbitrary mechanism to settle cases between investors and EU country members. This mechanism is designed to remove certain legal procedures preventing Canadian companies to invest  in the EU and vice versa," a communique by French lawmakers read.

    According to Chassaigne, the free trade deal between Canada and Brussels would violate the precautionary principle written in the Constitution.

    "French sanitary norms, including bans on growth hormones and genetically modified products, will be regarded as an obstacle for trade and will be reviewed by a special court," he explained.

    "That’s impossible. We’re told that the agreement will temporarily come into effect, but its ratification by all EU members may take years. It’s anti-democratic. We want the agreement to be cancelled," the lawmaker added.

    The motion against CETA by French lawmakers is not the first attempt to give a legal evaluation of the agreement. For example, on February 13, the Veblen Institute think-tank issued a thorough legal analysis of CETA, saying that the free trade deal is not compatible with the Constitution.

    "Before turning to French lawmakers we decided to evaluate which parts of the Constitution would be violated by CETA," Mathilde Dupre, a representative of the Veblen Institute, said.

    Dupre also suggested that the motion to the French Constitutional Court could be followed by other measures.

    "It is also possible to refer the deal to the European Court, as Belgium proposed," the expert said.

    CETA is aimed at establishing a free trade zone between Canada and the EU. According to estimates by the European Commission, a free trade zone between the EU and Canada will remove nearly 99 percent of customs fees.

    The EU-Canada free trade deal has been broadly criticized by European politicians, businessmen and public activists. Opponents fear it would undermine standards and regulations on environmental protection, health, safety and workers' rights.

    In October, EUobserver reported that nearly 3.5 million people signed a petition calling to stop the ratification of CETA and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a similar free trade deal with the United States.

     

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