Row over CETA free trade deal escalates

The row between Canada and Germany over the future of the stalled CETA free trade deal rumbles on after Germany said it wanted to re-open the talks.

The row between Canada and Germany over the future of the stalled CETA free trade deal rumbles on after Germany said it wanted to re-open the talks.

The new EU Commissioner for Trade, Sweden’s Cecilia Malmstroem, recently caused confusion over the deal, saying first the Investor State Protection clauses would be taken out, later retracting that statement saying she was using and ‘old draft’ and then recently saying the clauses were ‘frozen’.

Now Malmstroem says the deal, if the CETA deal negoitiations are re-opened, ‘will fall apart’.

In an interview in Germany’s lower house of parliament, Canada’s chief negotiator, Steve Verheul, said Canada wanted the ISDS embedded in the free trade deal ‘to stay in’, where he was due to ‘explain Canada’s position’.

But Germany’s Sigmar Gabriel, a Social Democrat, said he wanted the ISDS clause out before any ratification. Gabriel has blamed the European Commission for agreeing to the CETA clauses back in 2011, and said Germany must nowwork with its EU partners to have the ISDS removed as domestic laws in Germnay and Canada are adequate to address investor disputes.

In Germany, as in the rest of the EU, there is momentum building against the CETA deal which is seen as an outrider for the USA – EU trade deal TTIP.

German chancellor Angela Merkel now faces major division in her coalition government as well as growing public opposition, including opposition from unions who see the CETA deal as undermining their strong employment laws and social partnership structures.

Tony Burke is assistant general secretary of Unite

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