3.5-million French-speaking Walloons of Belgium are standing up for all the people of Europe & Canada. The Wallonia region has an effective veto over CETA because Belgium’s constitution gives them that power….and we should all be thanking them for using it.
The Huffington Post reports the apparent 5 reasons that the Walloons are blocking CETA, and they are pretty fucking good reasons:
1. Too much corporate power
While the Walloons are worried their agriculture sector will suffer under the deal, they are increasingly concerned about the investor-state dispute settlement system as well. The region’s socialist government has adopted many of the concerns of the civil society groups that oppose the free trade deal: they say it gives multinational corporations too much power to sue governments if they make regulations that affect their ability to turn a profit.
2. Trade tribunals
The Walloons want changes to the ISDS provisions of the treaty, specifically the tribunals that would settle disputes. They want them to be more transparent to eliminate the possibility of bias or conflict of interests by the people appointed to adjudicate disputes.
3. Loophole for U.S. corporations
The Walloons want to see loopholes closed that they say would allow U.S. multinationals with offices in Canada to use the treaty to sue governments in Europe, says Osgoode Hall law professor Gus Van Harten.
4. National courts vs. tribunals
Van Harten also says the Walloons want stronger language in the treaty that would preserve the jurisdiction of domestic courts in individual countries to hear disputes, instead of turning them over to the new tribunal system envisioned by the treaty.
5. We don’t know what we’re getting
In a parliamentary debate last week, Wallonian President Paul Magnette used an interesting metaphor to describe what he says is the opaque nature of the tribunals. He said it was like buying “a cat in a bag.”
As we have mentioned previously, investor-state dispute settlement provisions provide corporations with the ability to loot the public purse when they make poor business decisions and hinders governments ability to protect citizens and the environment. We should all be very grateful to the Walloons and let the world know that if the rest of us had the choice, we would VETO CETA as well.