Collapse of EU-Canada trade pact a “stark warning” against hard Brexit – Tom Brake MP

Commenting on the blocking of the EU-Canada CETA trade deal by the Wallonia region of Belgium, Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Tom Brake said:

This is a stark warning against a hard Brexit that takes us out of the Single Market.

The fact that a small region of Belgium was able to block a massive EU deal with Canada shows just how delusional those expecting the UK to throw its weight around post-Brexit really are.

If we leave the Single Market there is no going back and any trade deal with the EU will be incredibly difficult to conclude.

Far from having taken back control, we will have left ourselves at the whim of the internal politics of 27 other countries.

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22 Comments

  • This is an argument against the EU, not one for it.

  • Richard Easter 25th Oct '16 - 11:37am

    CETA contains ISDS (or a variant of it) and is thus a corrupt deal that benefits foreign multinationals above that of the nation state and her citizens.

    I am glad this corporate stitch up has been opposed. CETA is not a free trade deal, it is supranational governance by corporations.

  • The point is Z we are leaving the club and Waloonia now has more say in our relationship going forward with them than we do. Hard to swallow I know, especially if you really did believe you had taken back control. Reality hey what a downer.

  • Of course Brexit is and will be a central issue in British politics over the next few years. I support the Party stance on it…………..BUT…………… Can we please remember there are other issues and there is a danger of the party becoming a one trick pony.

    As a former Cabinet member for Social Work I was horrified (but not surprised) to hear yet again today about the parlous state of adult social care which is particularly acute in England and Wales, given the strapped for cash position of local authorities… much of it as a consequence of Osborne austerity (which I’m afraid the party supported).

    Look up the BBC News website : Councils ‘not paying for price for care’ BBC News‎ – 5 hours ago

    We are facing a catastrophe and it is high time the Party took a stance on it. We have a moral duty to do so and I find the terms ‘market’ in this area ’ (a consequence of economic liberalism ?) repugnant. It is time for social liberals to speak up.

  • Richard Easter 25th Oct '16 - 11:52am

    The Lib Dem constitution states “The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community”, “We aim to disperse power”, “We look forward to a world in which all people share the same basic rights” and “We believe that people should be involved in running their communities. We are determined to strengthen the democratic process and ensure that there is a just and representative system of government with effective Parliamentary institutions, freedom of information, decisions taken at the lowest practicable level and a fair voting system for all elections.”

    We must be resolutely opposed to CETA, TTIP, TISA and anything of this ilk. They fly in the face of the above. It is one area where Donald Trump, UKIP, the Greens, Bernie Sanders, Jeremy Corbyn and even Zac Goldsmith and Peter Lilley are all correct in agreement, and I believe Charles Kennedy and many Lib Dems have been opposed.

    CETA is negotiated in private, where citizens, NGOs, small businesses, trade unions and elected representitives get little or no input, where as multinationals have had privilaged acces. Not to mention the parallel ISDS (or ICS) private legal system which only multinationals can use, which is an utter disgrace.

    Liberals should support lowering tariffs and deals which support free and fair trade. They must not back these horrific corporatist agreements, which are essentially about putting in place a planned economy for the benefit of multinationals – socialism in reverse in effect, whilst bringing in laws and structures which would be scuppered at the ballot box, if voters knew about them.

  • @ Z

    Spot on.

  • Eddie Sammon 25th Oct '16 - 2:35pm

    Apparently the reason why Belgium’s regional and linguistic bodies got a vote on it was because the EU allowed it to be designated as a “mixed” agreement. Whatever happens, regional bodies mustn’t be allowed to vote on the brexit deal or nothing will get agreed.

    I couldn’t believe my eyes as I was reading Charles Michel give his region’s verdicts on the CETA deal yesterday: he got the clearance from “the Germanophone government, the Flanders government (Dutch speaking) but not from “the Brussels government (mostly a French area), the government of the Federation of Wallonia-Brussels (French speaking) and CoCof (French Community Commission).

    Linguistic bodies shouldn’t get a vote on it. The Germanophone community only has about 73,000 people in it and what on earth is the French Community Commission.

  • Eddie Sammon 25th Oct '16 - 3:01pm

    Sorry it gets worse: I missed out the government of Wallonia, which is different to the government of the Federation of Wallonia-Brussels.

    So the state of affairs as of yesterday were:

    1. The Federal Government (accepted CETA)
    2. The Germanophone Government (accepted CETA)
    3. The Flanders Government (accepted CETA)

    4. The Wallonia Government (rejected CETA)
    5. The Brussels Government (rejected CETA)
    6. The Government of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation (rejected CETA)
    7. COCOF (French Community Commision) (rejected CETA)

    So the federal government has accepted but four of the six regions rejected yesterday. Apparently they are still working on a deal but I doubt one is going to happen before Thursday because the First Minister of Wallonia has made a big deal about the need for more time for democratic scrutiny of the deal.

  • This is an argument for two things:

    1. Leaving the EU.
    2. Accepting that remaining in the single market will not be possible.

    Because it makes two things very, very clear.

    1. That if we stay in the EU we will never be able to get free trade deals with the rest of the world.

    2. The EU, not the Tories, will insist that when we leave the EU we also leave the single market.

    Disappointing that we can’t have a free trade deal but if that is how it must be then fine.

    It won’t be easy. But in the long run we and our children will thrive. The future for the EU however looks far less rosy.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 25th Oct '16 - 3:53pm

    David Raw

    Three cheers to what you said but not on the use of the word market . Yes if you mean the money consideration is ahead of the consideration of care. But it need not be thus. As you know from your experience , one of the advantages of an embracing of the social market , not the laissez faire one or the social statist way , either, is that the best in provision locally can be secured by council departments, in partnership with, not for profit, or other private providers of care, with the input and decision-making by the individual , call the person , customer or consumer, resident or patient , however you look at it. It means what we really need is vastly more money in the system, but a diverse range of provision. We have had as many scandals in the state as the private sector. I am non ideological on who provides the service . It is important it is excellent and that has no ideological basis other than caring or uncaring. It is as wrong to demonise the provision based on the public private so called divide , as it is to eulogise it thus.

  • @Richard Easter “We must be resolutely opposed to CETA, TTIP, TISA and anything of this ilk.”

    That’s socialism, not liberalism. Liberals have far more in common with conservatives than with socialists.

    The liberals are all for free trade and will protect the rights of large corporations and their share holders as well as the rights of individuals.

    Your statement is obviously something that Jeremy Corbyn would agree with, not something Nick Clegg or Tim Farron would agree with.

    But I believe the Lib Dems have got both socialists and conservatives among their ranks by “playing to the audience” during by-elections and local elections. National government brought this to ahead.

    I would bet the places that blocked the trade deal were socialist, not liberal. If everywhere was liberal borders would be open, trade would be free and corporations would have rights too because they are owned by people. Britain is a conservative country though with some liberal influence and very little socialist influence anymore.

  • Dr David Hill 25th Oct '16 - 5:57pm

    The people of Wallonia are the only sane ones in this battle of ideologies, as no trade deals to date have financial enriched the masses, only the top 1% and that’s fact when you analyze all these so-called free-trade treaties that are totally corporate-power driven.

    Globalization has failed Humanity and Capitalism will ultimately dispatched the Human Experience to the ‘Ashes of History during this century – https://worldinnovationfoundation.blogspot.co.uk/2016/10/globalization-has-failed-humanity-and.html

  • Stevan Rose 25th Oct '16 - 6:49pm

    For a country that imports more than it exports and where production costs are among the highest in the world, a free trade agreement primarily helps importers and undermines domestic producers. It also, in an EU context, prevents Government from providing state support to vulnerable industries. The primary beneficiaries are global conglomerates who can move production to maximise profit.

    Take cars. We import more than we export. If tariffs are applied to car trade this makes British made cars far more attractive than imported ones in the home market. Any loss of export markets is more than compensated for by an increasing domestic demand. It is likely to boost production and jobs. If Renault can’t get free access to the UK market to sell their Romanian built cars their obvious answer is to set up a UK plant. A sensible government would use the revenue from the tariffs to smooth the bumps.

    There’s an assumption that the single market is good and tariffs are bad. But that’s not always true, and for a UK importing far more than we export it’s definitely not true. Remind me why the citizens of a net importer of goods benefit from free trade, assuming that tariff receipts are recycled in the tax system. The existing Single Market arrangements don’t work in our favour overall, net loss, so why are we so concerned?

  • jedibeeftrix 25th Oct '16 - 7:15pm

    The fact that a small region of Belgium was able to block a massive EU deal with Canada shows just how delusional those expecting the EU to function as an effective form of governance to able to represent the will of the people[s] of 27 countries. Let alone be accountable to them!

  • So Belgium – which has a federal system of government giving real power to its regions – can stop the EU agreeing a major trade agreement. Frustrating as this must be to big companies who want the control CETA could give them, this is a democratic strength not a weakness, and proves that the EU does NOT ride over national sovereignty as the Leavers claimed. Britain too could have vetoed CETA in its present form, but chose not to. Which is odd, as CETA would seriously impact the sovereignty they claim to care about.
    Personally I don’t know enough about CETA to know whether its faults outride its benefits, but if it can be worked on further to prevent corporations being able to sue governments over environmental rules or workers’ rights, it would be a better deal. Here’s what one campaighning organisation (SumofUs) emailed me recently, make of it what you will:
    “Together, we helped derail CETA.

    I hope you feel as excited and uplifted as I do! An EU-wide movement of regular citizens stood up against a corporate-backed trade deal that prioritises corporate profit over democracy, workers’ rights, consumer protection, and the planet — and it increasingly looks like we are winning!

    Together, millions of us protested against corporate power grabs — online and offline.

    Here’s what happened: The EU and Canada were supposed to sign the massive trade pact this week, but all 28 EU member states had to agree first. Many governments had concerns about the deal, but only a handful of politicians from a regional government in Belgium had the courage to actually stop CETA. Wallonia isn’t letting its national government sign the trade pact.

    And now, it looks like the official CETA signing is off. …”

  • David Allen 25th Oct '16 - 8:57pm

    Yes, the EU has a shambolically gridlocked decision system (almost as bad as the US, in fact!), but in this case, it has halted the onward march of globalisation.

    Admittedly the globalisation process is responsible for massive and quite widely spread economic benefits, but alongside political domination by big business and the oligarchy, and alongside a huge increase in fossil fuel burning which threatens all our futures. So to sum up, a shambolic version of democracy has blocked a bad globalisation deal. That’s modern politics for you – it isn’t simple, and those who pretend that it is are being denialist.

    Z is deliberately oversimplifying this as an argument against the EU. Essentially he is saying that life would be better if we just let big business and the oligarchs do what they please, and scrap all this tiresome democratic intervention. I disagree.

  • David Allen 25th Oct '16 - 9:06pm

    El Sid said:

    “This is an argument for … Accepting that remaining in the single market will not be possible. Because … The EU … will insist that when we leave the EU we also leave the single market.”

    This is a circular argument. The (false) premise is that the EU will kick us out of the single market, and the (false) conclusion is that we must leave the single market.

    Er, actually none of this is correct. The EU will certainly set conditions for staying in the single market, but if we reach agreement on the conditions, the EU will be happy to let us stay in the EEA.

    El Sid wants to reject the conditions, of course. He should argue the case for doing so in an honest manner. He should not twist logic to suggest (falsely) that we are compelled to do what he wants us to do.

  • Richard Easter 25th Oct '16 - 9:11pm

    El Sid – Liberals are for free trade, not corporate sovereignty agreements which in fact appear little more than a blueprint for a planned economy for the benefit of multinationals. Tariff reduction and open economies are very different to protectionism for big multinationals.

    Corporations and their shareholders can already claim recompense in national and EU courts, and rightly so. Why do they need their own special system which only foreign corporations can use, which domestic companies, individuals, small businesses, trade unions, NGOs, religious groups, charities or whatever else cannot use? This is not liberalism.

    Tim Farron appears to certainly be against ISDS (http://www.dragonfly1.plus.com/TimFarron21jan15positiononTTIP,ISDS,NHS.pdf). Charles Kennedy was also extremely concerned about TTIP and similar deals, for many of the reasons I have listed. Nick Clegg is little more than a corporatist who has advocated NHS privatisation, whilst receving money from private healthcare companies, and has also received money from Goldman Sachs.

  • Richard Easter 25th Oct '16 - 9:12pm

    Furthermore the list of people opposed to these sort of deals ranges from indeed Corbyn and the left, all the way through to UKIP and Ron Paul. It is not far left to be opposed to corporate sovereignty deals.

  • David Cooper 26th Oct '16 - 8:39am

    “a small region of Belgium was able to block a massive EU deal with Canada”

    In fact Luxembourg, a country with a tenth of the population of Wallonia, can do this too. Why is it taken for granted citizens of a tiny and destructive tax haven should have power of veto over the EU, but when citizens of a productive economy exercise that right everyone complains?

  • Steve Trevethan 26th Oct '16 - 12:27pm

    Canadian views on treaties and CETA in particular may be of interest and/or relevance.

    On 21/10/16 a constitutional challenge against CETA was filed in Canada’s Federal Court.

    The central challenge includes the following:
    1) the —government does not have the constitutional authority to sign, execute and implement treaties without– express authority —through an act of Parliament
    3) the CETA guts and extinguishes the constitutionally protected judiciary—by creating foreign tribunals to determine property and legal issues —without any judicial oversight or jurisdiction of the [National] courts over the disputes; and
    4) various articles of the CETA violate enshrined rights — that ground (our Nation’s) ability to mount public programs on Health, Education, Social Services, and public utilities including the elimination of subsidies, monopolies and state enterprises for public welfare.
    IN SHORT, THE TREATY PLACES THE RIGHTS OF PRIVATE FOREIGN INVESTORS OVER THOSE OF THE—CONSTITUTION AND–CITIZENS.

    Is “Globalisaton” part of a strategy to advance and protect the American Empire?

    Might we have the aim, which is difficult but not impossible to achieve, of being a part of a Europe which is democratically, financially and economically efficient, supportive of all its members [Greece?] and free from the American Empire?

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