Church, civil society groups and environmentalists in Europe and Canada pledged to continue to protest, after the European Parliament approved a landmark free trade deal with Canada on Wednesday. EU lawmakers backed the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (Ceta) by 408-254 votes. Critics argue that CETA will erode labour laws and environmental standards and allow multinational companies to dictate public policy.
The Columbans said in a statement: "The Columbans have supported the campaigns to tackle CETA and the TTIP, on the basis that both agreements lacked transparency in the negotiating process and serve corporate interests while ignoring the needs and voices of ordinary people and all of Creation. Global Justice Now has undertaken important campaigning work and been very sharp about the implications of CETA. Like them, we lament that the 'toxic' trade deal CETA has been passed by the European parliament.
"Columban missionaries live and serve in many countries that have free trade agreements which include investment policies. We see how these agreements serve to disproportionately benefit a small number of individuals, governments, and corporations while leaving the majority of people struggling to live. We believe that the current economic model does not reflect the Gospel values of solidarity, justice, dignity and respect for all of Creation. Trade and investment agreements, that often lack transparency in the negotiation process, have human consequences, and must be evaluated with regard to the effects that they have on the poor and all of God's Creation. We see that such agreements favour the interests of transnational corporations and make it more difficult for governments to defend labour rights and protect the environment. As a result, these agreements and policies drive migration and exacerbate poverty by making it difficult to access dignified employment and essential services, such as clean water, adequate housing, education and basic health care
"We would like to share the following quote from Laudato Si', Para 56:Economic powers continue to justify the current global system where priority tends to be given to speculation and the pursuit of financial gain, which fail to take the context into account, let alone the effects on human dignity and the natural environment. Here we see how environmental deterioration and human and ethical degradation are closely linked.:
Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now said: "Over three million people across Europe signed a petition calling for CETA to be scrapped, while hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of cities like Berlin saying they wanted no part of this toxic trade deal. So it's shameful that so many MEPs in voting for CETA have come down in favour of the army of corporate lobbyists that have been howling for this deal rather than the voices of the ordinary people that they are supposed to represent. This trade deal will have terrible impacts on our public services, labour rights and consumer standards, so it is crucial that Fox stops thwarting democratic process and that proper scrutiny and debate of CETA takes places for
"MEPs may have voted in favour of CETA today, but that doesn't mean it's the end of the story. The strength of public opposition to the deal meant that the commission conceded that national parliaments must agree before it comes into full effect, and there's every chance that that won't happen in countries like Austria and Belgium. In the UK Liam Fox has proven to be very cunning in ensuring that a full parliamentary debate hasn't happened on CETA. We will continue to fight to stop CETA being ratified in Westminster - something that will require MPs to take their role seriously."
For more information about CETA see: www.globaljustice.org.uk/what-ceta