DiEM25 NL on the march against CETA and TTIP

On Saturday, 22 October 2016 Dutch DiEM25 members joined more than 8,000 other demonstrators in Amsterdam in a protest against the proposed CETA and TTIP agreements which were being negotiated by the European Union.

A broad coalition of organisations, including the Consumentenbond, the Federatie Nederlandse Vakbeweging (FNV), Greenpeace and Milieudefensie, together with representatives of several major political parties, organised the rally and march to show the widespread opposition to the proposed treaties between the EU and Canada and the United States respectively.

The demonstration came at the moment that the Walloon parliament was holding out against approval of CETA, thus holding up the planned signing of the accord.

We oppose these treaties in part because of the secretive and antidemocratic manner in which they have been negotiated, with our elected representatives in the European Parliament systematically kept in the dark about what has been going on; but also because of many unacceptable features of the treaties themselves.

Among the most disturbing of these is the proposed introduction of an Investment Court System, which would greatly restrict the powers of democratically-elected governments to regulate the actions of corporations, with clear negative implications in such key areas as environmental protection, genetic modification of foodstuffs, health and safety, public services, and workers’ and consumers’ rights. The resistance from Wallonia raised the possibility that the incompatibility of this measure with the treaties establishing the Union would be tested at the European Court of Justice, but this was rejected by the European Parliament on 23 November.

The purpose of CETA and TTIP, while they are presented as desirable free trade agreements, is in fact to create a playing field systematically biased in favour of North American corporations; in the name of ‘harmonisation’ of regulatory regimes, much stricter EU regulations in many important areas would be undermined by the introduction of much laxer North American codes.

The next step is for the European Parliament to vote on ratification of CETA. The Commission intends that should Parliament accept the treaty, many of its provisions would be ‘provisionally applied’ during the following stage, ratification by each of the Member States.

Opposition to CETA must and will continue until this disastrous agreement is rejected or radically modified. The even greater threat of TTIP may have receded with the election of Donald Trump, but the lobbyists for the multinationals will not give up easily, and DiEM25 NL will continue to campaign, along with many other organisations, to bring our politicians to their senses.

22 October 2016 may not have been the last time that we need to take to the streets to resist these iniquitous proposals, and the antidemocratic processes which have spawned them.