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.
Both the Federal Chamber of Labour (BAK) and the Austrian Trade Union Federation (ÖGB) support trade relations, provided they are conducted under fair conditions, making them provably beneficial for workers and the environment. However, concerning the trade agreement with Japan (JEFTA), this is only a myth, as JEFTA represents an agreement that goes far beyond the scope of classic trade agreements, which is not at least the result of more than 190 meetings between business lobbyists and the EU Commission.
This week, the Presidents of BAK and ÖGB have written an open letter to MEPs, in which they take a stance against the trade agreement. According to Renate Anderl and Wolfgang Katzian the reason for this open letter are a number of problematic contents in JEFTA: for example, the “living agreement” would create undemocratic processes, as within the scope of Regulatory Cooperation, in future standards and norms maybe mutually recognised or harmonised without relevant public discussion or parliamentary approval. This would strengthen the influence of business representatives in respect of legislative processes, whilst at the same time making the implementation of stricter rules to protect man and environment more difficult. Apart from that, the precautionary principle pursuant to EUs law was not ensured. This would mean that JEFTA was able to bypass a precautionary ban of products, substances and production methods, whilst science had not (yet) agreed on potential loss or damage. Apart from that, similar to the International und the European Trade Union Confederation, they criticise that so far Japan has not even fully ratified the eight minimum core labour standards of the International Labour Organisation (ILO). Even though first talks have been initiated, it is in particular Convention 105 ‘Abolition of Forced Labour’ which poses a problem for Japan due to her correctional practices. The Presidents of BAK and ÖGB also complain that the chapter on sustainable development of all trade agreements was completely toothless due to the lack of sanctions in respect of the ratification, implementation and effective compliance of labour and environmental standards. Also missing was a so-called Gold Standard Clause for the total exemption of public services from the scope of JEFTA. Based on these reasons, the Federal Chamber of Labour and the Austrian Trade Union Federation would urge to reject the agreement with Japan until any problematic contents has been resolved. The protest against JEFTA is also supported by many NGOs such as LobbyControl, Power Shift, Greenpeace, which shortly before signing use fact checks and videos to prepare JEFTA’S contents for the public.
Now it is up to MEPs to reject JEFTA and to stand up for strong labour and environmental standards.
AK and ÖGB: Open letter - Trade Agreement between the EU and Japan