Arbitration of disputes between multinational corporations and State, agriculture…several reasons have led Wallonia to refuse to sign this treaty of free trade. Belgium has followed the steps of the federated entity, which has blocked the treaty.
The Walloons have obtained gain of cause. They have refused to give their green light to the belgian government for the signing of the Ceta, despite the proposals of changes made by Brussels this weekend. Belgium as a whole he was then engaged. The official signing ceremony scheduled for Thursday in the presence of the canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau will be cancelled. But that reproached Wallonia to the treaty of free trade? Le Figaro made the point.
• of courts Of arbitration favorable to the multinational corporations
That was the main sticking point. The Walloons are inquiètaient pane of the treaty which provides the opportunity for the multinational companies investing in a foreign country can bring a complaint against a State adopting a public policy contrary to their interests. “What it takes for us, it is that there are legally binding agreements that ensure that if in future there is a conflict between a multinational and a State, it has not weakened the powers of the State to regulate, protect our public services, our social standards, environmental, everything that makes the european model of society to which we are very attached,” says Paul Magnette, the head of the walloon government.
Sunday, the european Commission has sent a draft declaration to dispel its concerns. According to this document, it is agreed the establishment of a permanent tribunal, composed of 15 judges appointed by the EU and Canada, including all hearings will be public. In particular, it is explained that “the selection of all judges of the Tribunal and the appeal Tribunal will be made under the control of the european institutions and the member States, in a rigorous way, with the objective of guaranteeing its independence and impartiality, as well as the highest skill.” The judges will be paid for by the european Union and by the Canada on a permanent basis. In addition, the Commission recalls that the provisions concerning the protection of investments “will not come into force before the ratification of Ceta by all the member States, each in accordance with its own constitutional process”.
according To an eu diplomat, this text addressed “to all the reservations which Paul Magnette has done.” An interpretation disputed by the entourage of the latter, who said he is “disappointed”. “This document we surprised to the extent that it contains far less advanced than those previously achieved,” said a source to the AFP.
• Not enough protection for farmers
Like many NGOS, the Wallonia called for more safeguards in regard to agriculture. Paul Magnette was concerned that the Ceta does not sound the death warrant of walloon agriculture. “A safeguard for canadian farmers is provided, and it is very good. I don’t understand why it isn’t the same for the Europeans. Our partner is, it is true, smaller than that of the EU, but a canadian product for which the export quotas would be concentrated on one country or region could destabilize an entire sector,” he said last week in an interview in the World. He called for “real action to protect our farmers”. Mps walloons, such as those of the party cdH (centre démocrate Humaniste), have called for the inclusion in the treaty of an “exception agricultural”, which would recognize that “the agricultural products and agro-food cannot be treated as solely having commercial value”.
For its part, Brussels stresses that Ceta foresees the removal of customs duties for almost all goods, exceptions exist for certain agricultural products, such as beef and veal and pigmeat, in the sense that Canada and the EU. The agreement also provides for additional protection of 143 european products with geographical origin-specific (AOC), such as a French Roquefort, balsamic vinegar of Modena, or the Gouda, the netherlands. Brussels assures us: this agreement will not change the european rules on food safety or the protection of the environment.
last Friday, Paul Magnette admitted that “new significant advances” had been made on this dossier during its discussions with the european Commission in recent days.
• The Aacc, Trojan horse of the Tafta
another fear raised by the Walloons for the Tafta, or TTIP, other treaty of free trade negotiated by the Europeans with the United States. “How can we ensure that the AACC will not be the Trojan horse of the TTIP? How to ensure that multinational companies with headquarters in Canada do not use the CETA to benefit from all the advantages offered by it and anticipate the TTIP?”, asks Paul Magnette in his interview to the World. This fear, swept by Brussels, however, is shared by NGOS across Europe. “As soon as the approval of the Aacc, the american multinationals, which have many branches in Canada, could use these mechanisms to address regulations they consider adverse”, thus ensures that the collective ” Stop Tafta.