On 13th February 2019, the European Parliament has adopted a trade and an investment agreement with Singapore. According to the ECJ, the ball is now in the corner of the EU Member States: they have to ratify the investment agreement at national level. The Chamber of Labour above all criticises the Investment Court System (ICS), which first and foremost serves large international corporations.
Following a joint declaration by US President Trump and Commission President Juncker in July 2018, the European Commission has now published two mandates for the trade negotiations with the USA. One on conformity assessments and the other on industrial tariffs. However, some MEPs in the European Parliament's Committee on International Trade take a critical view.
According to ECJ Advocate General Yves Bot, the Investment Court System (ICS) agreed in CETA was in conformity with EU law. In most cases, the ECJ judges follow this opinion, but not always.
With the campaign “Rights for People, Rules for Corporations - Stop ISDS!”, which was started on 22nd January 2019, over 150 European organisations, trade unions and social movements supported the motion against special rights to take action by corporations and in favour of binding rules, based on which it will be possible to hold corporations accountable worldwide for human rights abuses. More than 200,000 people signed the petition within the first hours of the campaign.
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.