Stop CETA, Foto: Hugues Draelants (https://www.flickr.comPhoto: Hugues Draelants

This week, the Dutch Lower House voted by a small majority in favour of CETA, the trade agreement between the EU and Canada. However, CETA could still be defeated in the Senate, where there is not yet a majority in favour of approval.

In recent years, SOMO’s research has repeatedly shown politicians and the media what negative consequences CETA could have, especially with regard to the dispute settlement mechanism (ICS), which will come into effect as soon as all member states have approved CETA. This trade agreement would give Canadian investors in the Netherlands a strong instrument to sue the Dutch government for billions if they feel hampered by government policies, such as climate measures or agreements on childcare. In the publication “CETA: Rights for Canadian multinationals” (in Dutch), SOMO highlights the potential consequences for Dutch policies on childcare, natural gas production and the housing market. Earlier, SOMO showed how US companies could make use of CETA through a shortcut.

Discussion in the Senate

Whether or not CETA will actually get approved remains a question, partly because the treaty does not yet have a majority in the Senate. It is very well possible that the points examined by SOMO will still be on the table there. In other European countries, CETA still has to be approved as well. The treaty only definitively enters into force after all EU member states have given their consent.

The division over CETA shows that there is now more attention for the broad consequences of major trade agreements. The mechanisms for settling disputes about investments (ICS in the case of CETA, ISDS in other cases) are especially being criticised, because they further strengthen the position of multinationals and undermine democratic policy on issues such as climate and sustainability. Read all about CETA in our dossier.