News 25.03.2024

Yes! The French Senate says “No” to CETA

  • Free trade agreements
  • Transparency and food safety

With an overwhelming majority French Senators have rejected the EU-Canada trade agreement (CETA). foodwatch welcomes this decision as CETA is posing well-documented risks for agriculture, health and environmental standards, the climate and the legislative rights of EU Member States. 

After a day-long parliamentary debate, the French Senate has rejected CETA with an overwhelming majority. 

This is a victory! The Senate voting NO against the CETA-ratification is giving us back the space for a democratic debate. We have to rethink European trade policy. Trade relations should not compromise people rights and important consumer protection standards such as the European precautionary principle.
Karine Jacquemart Executive Director of foodwatch France

The negative vote of the Senate as a consequence now brings back the decision to the French National Assembly that first voted in favour of CETA in 2019. Now, the seat distribution there has changed since the vote in 2019 and the outcome of a second ballot could be very different, especially since we finally have more space for a democratic debate about the actual risks of this trade agreement.   

CETA undermines democratic principles and consumer protection 

Alongside numerous other organisations, foodwatch has been mobilising and denouncing the risks of the EU-Canadian trade agreement for years already. foodwatch sees three major threats in CETA: 

  1. CETA creates a parallel justice system for corporations. CETA establishes an Investment Court System (ICS) that enables international corporations to sue governments when new laws go against their future profit interests. This is especially threatening progressive legislation, e.g. to react on the climate crisis or to protect consumers health. This alone is reason enough why CETA should not be ratified. Despite some attempts of the European Comission to limit the Scope of the ICS, foodwatch and other organisations documented that this will be sufficient. 
  2. CETA overrides basic democratic principles. CETA committees have extensive powers and can prepare far-reaching, internationally binding decisions on very sensitive issues such as meat hygiene, pesticides and Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). However, their decisions are not controlled by the EP, they are staffed with non-elected officials from the EU and Canada and the contents and minutes of their negotiations are secret for the Public and even the EP. This lack of transparency, gives the industry lobby an easy ride. 
  3. CETA undermines citizen rights, consumers’ and environmental protection According to the Precautionary Principle, if there are indications that a substance, e.g. a pesticide, may be harmful to health or the environment, the authorities can preventively ban it. The burden of proof lies with the producer. CETA puts this principle in danger, because the Canadian government pressures Europe to move away from the precautionary principle and recognise Canada’s (lower) standards as equivalent. 

The biggest part of the EU-Canadian trade agreement CETA is in "provisional" application since September 2017. For the full application of all the treaty text, EU Member States have to ratify it. France is one of the ten countries that still have not ratified CETA. If one of the countries officially informs the European Commission, that they do not ratify CETA, the agreement could still be stopped. Cyprus also voted against CETA, but did not notify the European Commission about it. 

The trade agreement between Canada and the European Union (CETA) is not a done deal. If France informs the European Commission, that they do not ratify CETA, the agreement could still be stopped.  Let's keep the pressure on French authorities!

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