‘CETA another nail in the coffin of European democracy’

The Comprehensive Economic & Trade Agreement (CETA) will allow the economy to be run by big corporations. And the protesters of the deal – who have solid arguments – have not been heard, says Lode Vanoost, a former Deputy Speaker of the Belgian Parliament.

Protesters have attempted to storm the EU headquarters in Brussels in a bid to stop the signing of the controversial EU- Canada trade deal.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and European leaders inked the landmark trade pact despite the unrest outside.

The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) was expected to be signed earlier this month, but a Belgian region used its veto power to block the deal. And it was only on Friday they changed course and gave it the green light.

Supporters claim it will create business opportunities for EU firms in Canada and vice-versa. The deal also aims to create new jobs in Europe.

However, opponents say that it will damage consumer and workers’ rights. They also think it will allow multinationals to push small companies out of business.

RT: Why is there so much negativity around the deal? Supporters say it aims to create new jobs and boost economies. What’s wrong with that?

Lode Vanoost: First of all, according to the prognoses the European Commission made on this so-called free trade agreement, the impact on growth and jobs is going to be extremely minimal. We have to understand that the real drive behind this deal is. This is not a trade agreement; this is an agreement on the protection of investor rights. Free trade between Canada and the US and the EU is already almost totally free of tariffs and it couldn’t be better than it was today. The fact is that this is an attempt now to get the economy not to a so-called free market but to make it an economy dominated and regulated by big corporations.

In the media, they usually say the truth is probably somewhere in the middle. It isn’t in this case. The protesters have not been heard. They have very solid arguments. They have also the experience of previous so-called free trade agreements to use. Actually, the profit that is going to be there – the growth – it is going to be distributed to the top, it is not going to go to the small companies but to the big corporations. They are the ones that wrote the text of these agreements.

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