In spite of large waves of protest at the weekend and a divided S&D, the European Parliament finally adopted the trade agreement with Japan. A sobering majority of 474 votes were cast in favour of JEFTA.
In an open letter, Presidents Renate Anderl (AK) and Wolfgang Katzian (ÖGB) urge MEPs to reject JEFTA in its present form. The plenary vote will take place next week.
The Austrian Trade Union Federation (ÖGB) and the Federal Chamber of Labour (BAK) support trade relations in principle, as long as they are conducted under fair conditions and hence are demonstrably beneficial to workers and the environment. However, such conditions are not guaranteed by JEFTA, as was the case with CETA.
Still this year, in December 2018, the European Parliament will approve of or reject the largest Trade Agreement, the EU has ever negotiated. There are indications pointing towards approval, not least, because many myths regarding the deal with Japan are circulating. We intend to set the record straight!
We collected the common myths about JEFTA and scrutinized their accuracy in a short paper. In doing so, we came to the conclusion, that JEFTA contains regulations massively restricting the political scope of action of the EU and its member states. These regulations are extremely problematic from a democratic point of view.
In view of President Trump’s protectionism, trade policy issues are being increasingly discussed at EU level. As a counter measure, Conservative and liberal parties demand with regard to trade agreements, such as CETA and JEFTA, and also in respect of reforming the World Trade Organisation more liberalisation. However, critics make it clear that these measures will neither bring fair trade nor sustainable development.
The World Trade Organisation (WTO) was established in 1995 with the objective to create the same conditions for all members. However, according to the view of the European Commission (EC), which acts as the representative of the Member States within the WTO, this objective is no longer satisfactorily fulfilled. That is why the EC has now complied with its own demand and presented a concept paper on the modernisation of the WTO on 18 September 2018.
On 17th July 2018, “JEFTA”, the biggest trade agreement ever concluded by the European Union, shall be signed in Tokyo: together, Japan and the EU are responsible for a third of the global gross domestic product. Due to the co-decision right relating to trade agreements the European Parliament has to give its approval prior to the Agreement’s definite entry into force; however, it can no longer be revised.
In accordance with the current roadmap of the European Commission, on 26 June 2018 the Council of the European Union is to decide whether to sign further trade agreements with Japan (JEFTA) and Singapore, as well as an investment protection agreement. The Austrian Federal Chamber of Labour (AK) and the Austrian Trade Union Federation (ÖGB) support trade relations in principle, as long as they are conducted according to fair conditions. However, such conditions are not guaranteed under the a.m. agreements, as was the case with CETA.
This week, AK Europa, CEO and other organisations published data and infographics on the number of "external" meetings of DG Trade on the EU-Japan trade agreement between January 2014 and January 2017.
The EU member state vote on the EU-Japan trade agreement is close, but not all interest groups had an equal say when the deal was hashed out. Official figures from the European Commission show that big business had many more meetings with the EU trade negotiators than small businesses, trade unions and other civil society actors did.