Opponents of CETA fear February vote will clear way

All MEPs will vote on EU-Canada trade deal, known as CETA, on February 14.

These activists opposed to CETA posed as the four Fine Gael MEPs during Comhlamh's recent Stop CETA event. Picture: Sasko Lazarov

Over 80 Irish civil society groups, including the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association (ICSA), along with unions and business owners, are calling on MEPs to reject the EU-Canada trade deal, known as CETA.

The groups co-signed a letter to members of a European Parliament committee calling for rejection of the deal.

The trade deal is making its way through the European Parliament. The Committee on Employment and Social Affairs has already voted to reject CETA, but the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee has voted in favour of the deal.

The Parliament’s Trade Committee endorsed the deal last week.

In November, Parliament rejected a request by 89 MEPs to refer CETA to the European Court of Justice for an opinion. All MEPS will be entitled to vote in the final plenary vote of the European Parliament on the agreement, on February 14.

ICSA President Patrick Kent said 5% of Canadian farmers produce nearly half of Canada’s food produce.

“So that’s the scale of operators our small, and more quality oriented farmers will be competing with.”

He said Canada has lower standards on the use of antibiotics, steroids and hormones in animals destined for the food chain.

The 80 Irish groups say the most controversial element of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement is that it will allow foreign companies to sue countries that introduce laws and policies which impact on their profits, and this will put countries like Ireland under pressure not to bring in laws which limit businesses in any way.

The 80 groups include the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, the Environmental Pillar, the International Small Business Alliance, Social Justice Ireland, Comhlámh (volunteer and development workers in global solidarity), the Environmental Law Implementation Group, An Taisce, and Friends of the Earth Ireland.

They say the February EU Parliament vote will effectively clear the way for many problematic elements of the agreement, before it is considered by national parliaments.

CETA could enter into force provisionally this year, before all 28 member-states’ national or regional parliaments ratify it, which could take two years.



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