Brussels – Yesterday afternoon we met with Gerard Choplin and Lidia Senra of European Coordination Via Campesina.
We met to explore our common concerns, learn about the issues we are each working on, understand how CETA relates to these issues, and to see if we can work together and support each other.
They raised with us the European Union’s intention to phase-out a milk quota system that benefits European farmers by 2015, and the European Commission’s support for GMOs.
We highlighted the Canadian government’s agenda to eliminate European regulatory barriers against genetically modified organisms, and our successful – but always under threat – orderly marketing/ supply-management systems for milk, poultry and eggs.
It would appear that CETA negotiations involve in part the EU’s demand to access the billions of dollars spent through our local procurement contracts, with Canada willing to trade that away but demanding to export more agricultural products – including GMO crops – into Europe.
It would seem that the European Commission also wants to export milk products into Canada, a move that would undermine our supply-management system and harm Canadian farmers (and not benefit European farmers, just their corporations).
We all agreed that there is a major issue of transparency with respect to CETA negotiations. Not enough is being made public, and too few know what is being negotiated and what would be the very real consequences of the deal now in the works.
Additionally, Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow and Blue Planet Project organizer Anil Naidoo write in the Toronto Star today in support of a United Nations resolution on the right to water and note the danger of “the proposed Canada-E.U. Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), which will give water corporations the right to challenge local public control of water services.”
And CAW economist Jim Stanford wrote in the Globe and Mail yesterday that, “A truly mutual economic partnership with Europe would be great – one where they buy as much from us as they sell to us, and good stuff, too, not just resources. But a free-trade agreement won’t do that.” He added, “Better to take a pass on this one, and negotiate a better deal with the Europeans somewhere down the road…”
The fourth round of talks for CETA are taking place this week in Brussels. The fifth round will take place in Ottawa in October. Now two more rounds are expected in January and April. And it is then expected that the deal will be signed by the end of 2011.
For Council of Canadians analysis and ways to take action against CETA, please go to http://www.canadians.org/CETA.
Maude and Anil’s op-ed is at http://www.thestar.com/mobile/opinion/editorialopinion/article/835040-a-human-right-canada-rejects-access-to-clean-water. Jim’s op-ed is at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/canada-eu-trade-talks-jumping-from-one-sinking-ship-to-another/article1634950/.
Brent Patterson, Director of Campaigns and Communications, Council of Canadians