Editor’s note: The following article is published verbatim from France’s Pardem (Parti de la démondialisation) and concerns the pending EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic Trade AGreement (CETA), currently in the works between the European Union and Canada. While the article references France, the concerns it raises are also of direct relevance to Greece and to Greek farming, agriculture, and Greece’s environment.
As stated in the article which follows, it only takes one EU member-state to veto this agreement. Will Cyprus or Greece — where Monsanto’s RoundUp was just licensed by the SYRIZA-led “radical leftist” government — be the countries to stand up to this trade deal? One would think not.
French MPs and Senators will have to vote for or against the CETA (Treaty between Canada and the European Union) during the second half of 2018.
Let’s rise up so that MPs and Senators vote NO TO THE CETA – a free-trade agreement between Canada and the European Union
Only one EU Member-State is needed to vote against to make null and void this treaty which is extremely harmful to our agricultures and cattle-raising farms, for our populations health, for our jobs, for the environment in terms of greenhouse gases production, for democracy.
French agriculture endangered and increased risks for everyone’s health
The CETA is an international agreement that heavily threatens French peasants and presents very real risks for the quality of our food and our food sovereignty.
A study made by the Institut de l’Elevage (Institute for Cattle Raising) and INTERBEV (Interprofessional Union for Cattle and Meat) shows that an increase of 200,000 tons/year of zero-rated imports of Northern American beef meat to Europe would have severe consequences. Such increase would generate a 40% to 50% reduction of income for the French beef farmers, and a loss of 50,000 jobs in the related sector (30,000 farming jobs and 20,000 jobs among the downstream industry for stakeholders such as slaughterhouses, butcheries, etc). At the same time, this destruction of jobs and added value would cause a decline in pastures and grasslands benefiting field crops which would release tons of greenhouse gas. With the increase of 50,000 tons for the Canadian quota, the CETA impact only would be a little less brutal, but enough to send the beef industry into an even more serious crisis.
The CETA increases also the import quota of Canadian pork considerably, as it is now without any Customs duties. From about 6,000 tons/year (in carcass weight) charged between EUR 0.233/kg to EUR 0.434/kg, the quota would gradually reach 81,000 tons/year… with a zero-rated tariff. Like for beef meat, Canada does not use its full export quota – it exported « only 2,328 tons » of pork to the EU in 2014 – because of the European prohibition of ractopamine, a non hormonal growth additive largely used for more than 20 years in Canada. But even if that prohibition (a « non tariff » barrier) resisted the future regulation, the new quota could be enough to encourage a production of « ractopamine-free pork » for the EU market. The production cost of « ractopamine-free pork » by Canadian cattle farms is about EUR 0.35/kg inferior to the average production cost within the EU : the sole creation of a zero-rated tariff quota within the CETA would make Canadian pork competitive on the European market. Canada is the third pork exporter in the world in 2013 (behind the US and the EU) and already exports almost half of its production : it has the commercial infrastructure to conquer this new market, to the detriment of European pork farmers, in particular French pork farmers. And like for beef meat, getting that quota will set a dangerous precedent which American negotiators could use now for the TAFTA (Trans Atlantic Free Trade Agreement).
It will be much more profitable for industrials who claim they export French know-how, to establish themselves in Canada (which they manage to do nowadays but with difficulties) and to collect the milk produced by Canadian peasants, in order to feed it into the « French » production lines (yogurt, cheese, etc.)
Such strategy is not new : firms like Lactalis, Bel and Danone are already well established abroad and they produce French branded products locally. The agreement on dairy products will benefit the agri-business – all the more so as Chapter 8 that defines protection conditions for foreign investments, is particularly favorable to it – but not European and Canadian dairy farmers who are played off to the benefit of a concentration and an industrialization of production.
Detrimental consequences on employment
In general, opening borders results in increased unemployment for the workers employed in competing sectors. These workers do not manage to retrain as their skills become obsolete. Unskilled workers in rich countries, in competition with emerging countries labor force, see their employability decrease, which compels them to accept lower wages or poorer working conditions. Such opening of borders also allows the wealthiest individuals and big corporations to evade taxation thanks to fiscal optimization.
The CETA degrades climate and increases greenhouse gas emissions (GHG)
The expert committee – called for and implemented by Emmanuel Macron – has just recognized that « climate is the great absentee from the treaty ». It asserts that the CETA impact on climate will be negative as far as greenhouse gas emissions are concerned.
The CETA remains a classical free trade and investment agreement. It translates the refusal by its promoters (the European Union and Canada) to adapt it to the great global challenge of this early 21st century that is climate warming.
Neither the preamble or the CETA chapters do mention the climate emergency explicitly. Neither can be found herein goals to reduce GHG emissions, or general objectives aiming to « decarbonize » the economy. It does not mention the commitments from the EU and Canada taken during international negotiations on climate warming.
Even worse, according to the European Commission « sustainability » impact study published in June 2011, the CETA effect on greenhouse gas emissions is very real. As a matter of fact, the CETA shall result in an increase in European investments in oil extracted from oil sands (1), which emits greenhouse gas three times more than conventional oil production, as well as in big oil infrastructure projects which should allow to export that very same oil.
The CETA has been provisionally applied while the citizenry or the national Parliament have not been consulted, even though the majority of French MEPs has voted against it – which constitutes a serious denial of democracy. The democratic process is also threatened by two new mechanisms set up by the CETA. On one hand, arbitration courts – which are a privatized justice questioning the States lawmaking abilities, and therefore questioning democracy (and to sentence States to pay huge indemnities to multinational firms). On the other hand, the various harmonization processes for standards, which will allow Canadian and European administrations in charge of trade, to influence health, industrial and environmental standards upstream the lawmaking process. Such tools will be available for big corporations to further their interests and influence elected officials at the local, national and European levels.
The hegemony of commercial law is therefore a front assault against the peoples’ ability to choose to live in more sovereign, more solidary, more human and fairer societies.
(1) The petrol extracted from oil sands is one of the dirtiest in the world. The extraction process is complicated and most polluting. During such process, methane, whose greenhouse effect is at least 20 times more powerful than CO2, and sulphur dioxide, responsible for lake and forest acidification, are released into air. The outcome is that extracting one oil barrel from the Alberta oil sands, produces at least three times more greenhouse gas than a conventional oil production process.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.