21 September 2016
The Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) – a deal between the EU and Canada – could lead to corporations making legal challenges to the UK over our labour rights.
This is according to a new report co-written by a number of organisations including the European Federation of Public Service Unions, which warned that under the deal Canadian investors and US companies with subsidiaries in Canada will have the ability to sue governments enacting legislation that could negatively affect their profit margins.
Existing deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement have led to lawsuits against national governments for enacting legislation to protect workers’ rights, public health and the environment.
The report, which was co-authored by Corporate Europe Observatory, Friends of the Earth Europe and 20 other civil society organisations, explained that the Investor Court System (ICS) embedded within CETA is a form of the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) system, which has been widely criticised for allowing companies to sue governments against the public interest.
“ICS can prevent governments from acting in the public interest both directly when a corporation sues a state, and indirectly by discouraging legislation for fear of triggering a suit. Globally, investors have challenged laws that protect public health such as anti-smoking laws, bans on toxics and mining, requirements for environmental impact assessments, and regulations relating to hazardous waste, tax measures and fiscal policies,” the report states.
Penny Clarke, Deputy General Secretary at the European Public Services Union, added: “It is not acceptable that public services like healthcare are liable to special investor courts when they exist first and foremost to serve the public. Ordinary people see that it is wrong to hand over to investors huge amounts of public money in these cases, why don’t more governments see it?”