07:26 GMT05 June 2020
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    The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) signed by the EU and Canada on Sunday is a "Trojan Horse" designed to pave the way for the TTIP deal between the EU and the US, French journalist Karel Vereycken told Sputnik, stressing that the rejection of CETA remains possible through citizens' mobilization and political action.

    On Sunday, the EU leadership and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau signed the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) in Brussels, amid a wave of protests over the highly controversial deal.

    Karel Vereycken, French journalist and founder of the LaRouche movement-associated Belgian Agora Erasmus organization, denounced the EU-Canadian agreement as a "Trojan Horse" designed to pave the way for the much larger TTIP (Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) deal between the EU and the US.

    "CETA was indeed intended to become a 'Trojan Horse' for the TTIP," Vereycken told Sputnik.

    "Nothing is more similar to the EU economy than Canada, and CETA aimed to get the EU to sign without too much worrying. However, what was not well known is the fact that 42,000 US companies have subsidiaries in Canada and hoped, via CETA, to get a free ride by getting access the EU market," the journalist pointed out.

    'Free Trade Has Always Been a Scam'

    Citing a recent report by Pierre Kohler of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs and Dutch professor Servaas Storm of the University of Delft, Vereycken highlighted that the CETA agreement may deal a severe blow to Europe's economy in just seven years.

    "CETA will lead to job losses. By 2023, about 230,000 jobs will be lost in CETA countries, 200,000 of them in the EU and 80,000 more in the rest of the world, adding to the rising dependency ratio (the average number of people supported by one job). CETA will lead to net losses in terms of GDP," the researchers found out, as quoted by Vereycken.

    To make matters even worse, "CETA will lead not just to economic losses but also to rising unemployment and inequality, with negative implications for social cohesion in an already complex and volatile political context," Kohler and Storm warned.

    A demonstrator with red paint is detained by police officers during a protest against the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), a EU-Canada free trade agreement, outside the European Council in Brussels, Belgium, October 30, 2016.
    © REUTERS / Francois Lenoir
    A demonstrator with red paint is detained by police officers during a protest against the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), a EU-Canada free trade agreement, outside the European Council in Brussels, Belgium, October 30, 2016.

    But this is half the trouble.

    "Besides this extra doses of deregulation and 'creative destruction,' the CETA projects introduce a 'juridical revolution' through the creation of an Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism, allowing multinationals to sue governments if laws or regulations affect their actual or expected profits — even if these laws protect public health, the environment or social rights," the journalist underscored.

    So does it mean the CETA agreement is aimed at exposing the EU market to US corporations and further downgrading the role of European nation-states?

    "Historically, free trade has always been a scam," Vereycken responded, "The history of Venice and the British Empire demonstrates without contest that 'free' is only a nice word hiding the will of colonial domination over one's victims. Wasn't it in the name of 'free trade' that the British Empire exported opium grown in India to break the will of the Chinese people resisting British colonialism? And when China refused such British free trade, the British went to war twice!"

    "The EU member states gave the EU Commission a mandate to negotiate both the CETA and TTIP free trade agreements. While large private multinationals knew all the fine details of the agreements negotiated, the populations and governments of EU member states got no access to the texts and content," Vereycken pointed out.

    Furthermore, "governments were then asked to sign but were not allowed to change a line of the treaty itself. They only could choose between 'yes' and 'yes'," the journalist highlighted.

    "Now that they did sign, the CETA treaty will be applied 'provisionally' before any form of ratification by parliaments. So much for Democracy!" he added bitterly.

    How Belgians Put a Huge Bomb Under CETA

    And still, although the CETA treaty was literally imposed on the EU member states, the Belgians have jumped at the opportunity to protect their interests and upset the proverbial applecart of behind-the-scenes multinationals and their lobbyists.

    Vereycken recalled that although the agreement has been negotiated in the utmost secrecy between the EU and Canada between 2009 and 2015, on October 14 the governments of the EU and Canada  were caught in the act. Paul Magnette, the Minister-President of Wallonia, vetoed the treaty as totally unacceptable.

    "Wallonia's political leadership prevailed in a fight on behalf of all Europeans and Canadians who want to see the end of takeovers of public policy and national sovereignty by corporate-rights investment charters smuggled into trade agreements," Vereycken told Sputnik, referring to the fact that over 200,000 European citizens signed petitions backing Magnette.

    The journalist called attention to the fact that 2,000 European cities have already declared themselves "TAFTA (Transatlantic Free Trade Area) Free," while about 45 Canadian municipalities have passed (or are in the process of passing) resolutions on CETA, with some even seeking exemptions from the deal.

    Demonstrators protest against CETA outside the EU summit in Brussels, Belgium, October 20, 2016
    © REUTERS / Francois Lenoir
    Demonstrators protest against CETA outside the EU summit in Brussels, Belgium, October 20, 2016

    Regardless of European Council President Donald Tusk's deep displeasure, the EU establishment was forced to add several pages of amendments, guarantees and protections to the CETA treaty, Vereycken noted.

    As a result, with these amendments Belgium will be allowed to leave the CETA treaty during the provisional period if guarantees are not respected, while 42,000 Canada-based affiliates of US corporations will have to fully respect EU law in their trade with the bloc, whether they like it or not.

    "But far more important is the fact that the Belgian government will call on the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) to rule on the legality of what is now called the 'zombie ISDS mechanism,' i.e. a reworked version of going under the name of Investment Court System (ICS)," Vereycken emphasized, adding that in Germany and France the issue of the constitutional nature of CETA has been also raised.

    The journalist cited the Belgian daily La Libre Belgique, which wrote that "Belgium puts a bomb under CETA," commenting on Magnette's move.

    For its part, the UK media site The Independent claimed that "Belgium's regional parliaments have, in the process of hobbling CETA, driven a stake into the heart of European trade policy."

    "It failed, because when it was discovered, the treaty ended up demanding that these firms comply with EU norms and social regulation," Vereycken told Sputnik.

    "Rejection of CETA remains totally possible through citizens' mobilization and political action," he believes.

    "With my friend, presidential candidate Jacques Cheminade, I wish that after a full recognition of the current disaster and methods, a top down overhaul of the EU institutions could give rebirth of the 'Europe of Fatherlands and the Projects' wished by De Gaulle and respectful of the sovereign character of its culture and its people, as well as that of its neighbors," the journalist concluded.


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    big corporations, trade agreements, US hegemony, protests, TAFTA, Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), European Union, Justin Trudeau, Donald Tusk, Germany, Europe, Canada, Belgium, France
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