Sinan Ozdemir - Brussels
The global trade deal between Europe and Canada (CETA) which is considered as the 'NATO of economics', has been signed in Brussels on Sunday, after the gentle persuasion of the objections from Valonia ( one of the three regions which Belgium is comprised of). Although the exit of Valonia has resulted in demonstrations of happiness on one side, it has been seen as additional damage to the image of the European Union after Brexit. Last week the insistence of Valonia until the last minute resulted in the cancellation of the summit between EU and Canada. The problem seemed to be aroused with agriculture, SME's and the courts of arbitration to be established upon disagreements. However the agreement which has been finalized before even 24 hours has passed after the cancellation, has raised the question as to why this agreement could not have been done before. The agreement has been reached as the EU counterparts did not take seriously the objections of Valonia and also the fact that they were given a 48 hour ultimatom.
The 'compromise' between the sides has avoided the deepening of the crisis but however the process has not been finalized.
Even though it has not been reflected by the media the Germans also had objections to the agreement. Hence even though the Regional Parliaments votes are not considered, the application to the Constitutional Court by some Non-governmental organizations will open the path for new discussions in the coming months. The court has decided that there is no cause to prevent temporary application of the decision made on the 13th of October before it is finally confirmed by the authorities. However it has delayed the decision regarding the contents to a future date.
The Europeans just as the Germans are finding it difficult to understand why this agreement which has been finalized as 2334 pages after the negotiations between Brussels and Ottawa which has lasted seven years, has not been debated at the National Parliaments and by the media. When considering the socio-economic problems which has resulted after the agreements in recent times which have been accepted despite the Europeans, it can be said that they are justified with their concerns. In this respect the objections of Valonia are important. Trade deals should result in a win win situation for both sides. Otherwise it is not an agreement but rather an imposition. However when you consider Europe with a population of 505 million people, it is not possible to completely respond to all the requirements set forth by 38 national and regional parliaments. In this situation there needs to be a decision made after considering the positive and negative balance of the sides. In this regards the continuing negotiations of nearly twenty agreements in the hands of the commission, seems impossible to be evaluated within the win win formula.
At this point CETA has been saved but the future of TAFTA (The global trade deal which is been negotiated between USA and EU) remains uncertain. Even though the European leaders have declared TAFTA as dead in the aftermath of Brexit, they have confirmed once again that the negotiations will continue at the 20 October summit in Brussels. The president of USA Barack Obama has really wanted this agreement to be finalized and signed during his post in office; however when the objections raised by the European public opinion had stalled the negotiations the agreement could not be finalized. On the other hand the Presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have both declared this agreement has been put aside. Americans believe that agreements of this nature are not beneficial to employment but rather detrimental. We can also hear similar opinions expressed from within CETA as well. Research polls have recorded that as CETA comes into application as creating new job prospects, it will deprive 200 thousand Europeans of their jobs. It can be said that the Europeans and Americans understand each other regarding this point. The reason behind the EU acceptance of CETA is the reason that it has doubts in the future of TAFTA. In this regards the big American corporations who feel they will be left out, are looking for ways to enter the Canadian market in order to strongly enter the European market as well.
The President of the Valonia region Paul Magnette claims to be the voice of all Europe in this personal fight; resisting against neo liberal politics. The struggle of Valonia which it claims to be for the benefit of the future of Europe, must be evaluated first and foremost as a move to protect its own benefits. The increase in national reflections of opposition to the idea of globalization in the union, can be explained as the increase in pessimistic views of their future. Hence if it was not like this it would not have been possible to resolve the situation within 48 hours. In addition the rise of the Workers Party in Valonia where the Socialists are currently in power required a move like this. This situation has given another opportunity to the Socialists to re define themselves after the loss in faith that has increased towards them.
The biggest opposition to the objections of Valonia came from the Dutch (one of the three regions which Belgium is comprised of) as expected. They have been accused of being two faced and inconsistent. Reminded that transparency can not be one sided. The secret attitude of the weapon sales of Valonia has brought to the public arena a little known fact. The region of Valonia has increased their weapon sales to the Middle East in recent years. Last year 60 percent of its agreements were with Saudi Arabia. This situation is forcing Valonia who has strong ties with the weapon industry to behave smarter. IT does not refrain from using third party countries in order to avoid negative public opinion and to lose its tracks. One of these is Canada which is claimed to be in advantage after CETA and the biggest opposition of Valeria is regards the Courts of arbitration to be established following disputes. They are in the right as they take a biased decision to protect the interests of the government when disputes arise between the government and corporations. Even though they have expressed that they have obtained some guarantees they are still waiting for the final decision of European Justice Department. In this way they are planning to keep secret the private courts appointed by CETA and establish new courts under the control of government.
Even though in the last instance CETA has been signed after much reservation this process has not yet been finalized. In the early months of next year, it has to be confirmed by 38 National and regional parliaments after the confirmation by the European Parliament. At this point CETA which has been presented as the ' NATO of economics' can have new surprises in front of it. To be the first of the global agreements it is required to pass this long and mind boggling process. One thing is certain that there will be winners as well as losers. When considering the wounds of uncontrolled globalization in the last 20 years, it should not be too difficult to estimate the results of an even much less controlled agreement. The only consolation for Europeans is that unlike TAFTA, it is not treading on all the norms completely!
Last Mod: 07 Kasım 2016, 09:08