CETA, the TTIP in disguise: Civil society stopped TTIP – but let’s not lose sight of CETA

Thursday 9 June 2016

By Oliver Roethig, Regional Secretary of UNI Europa, the European Services Workers Union

TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) may not be dead but it is on life support and we are just waiting until the plug is pulled faced with US, German and French elections. And it is civil society that stopped it.

Let’s not drop our vigilance though. CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) is as much a danger as TTIP. It is up for adoption by the European Parliament now and it is the new rallying point for those who push for the neoliberal agenda in trade agreements. CETA does not meet the criteria for a trade agreement that workers and large parts of society want. CETA needs to be stopped and civil society has to work together to achieve that over the next months. We need to be determined and not be distracted by nice talk. Our red lines are red lines, not shades of pale pink.

This is a fight across two continents as the joint declaration by UNI Europa and UNI Americas last week showed. Our joint targets are the European Parliament and the national governments in the EU and Canada.

The European Commission is floating the idea that CETA can be ratified without the approval of national parliaments. This is a dangerous approach. By ignoring democratically elected parliaments and their possible objections, the Commission further undermines the European Union’s reputation and its legitimacy with wide parts of Europe’s population.

UNI Europa is in favour of trade agreements, but only if they serve workers and citizens, not large companies. We defined red lines in 2014. Neither TTIP nor CETA respect those, neither two years ago nor today. So, we say NO, and we must make sure that it is a resounding and unequivocal NO.

Our ambition is a future restart of TTIP as a trade agreement that actually provides a gold standard for world trade. Together with the ITUC, ETUC and the entire civil society movement we will proactively develop a concrete framework for fair international trade agreements that put workers and people first. And we will start now!

This text is based on the input Oliver Roethig gave at the ETUC Executive Committee on 8 June 2016