Last week’s Brexit vote was a great shock to many of us. But it was also a wake-up call for democracy in Europe. If citizens are not taken seriously, political unity unravels and with it, the capability for progress. “We want our rights respected and our voices heard. Voices that the president of the European Commision, Jean-Claude Juncker, is pointedly ignoring.
Juncker has just announced that CETA – the EU-Canadian trade agreement similar to TTIP – could go ahead with just the approval of EU leaders and the European Parliament, bypassing national parliaments. This directly contradicts EU law, which says that CETA (like all agreements that affect national legislation) should also be decided on by national parliaments. This is an outrageous attempt to undermine our democratic rights.
Things are moving fast. This Tuesday the College of Commissioners will set out their proposal for how CETA will be adopted – through our national elected representatives or EU bodies alone. Juncker is in a hurry – he knows that if the controversial deal were to go to national parliaments, it would fall through. But our heads of government can overrule Juncker. Several government have already stated that there will be no CETA without national parliament involvement. If we can keep the pressure up now, they will have to make good on their statements.
Brexit showed us that Europe needs more citizen participation, not less. But rather than understanding this, Juncker is using Brexit as a distraction as he uses every trick in the book to push the EU to adopt CETA.
CETA, like TTIP, is a dangerous trade agreement that would give powerful corporations the right to sue our governments in private tribunals. Essential public services, such as healthcare or education, could be open to privatisation. Our democratic, social and consumer rights would be eroded. With an agreement potentially having this huge an impact on our lives, we must be able to have our say.
Juncker desperately wants this trade deal to happen, and he’s not opening it up for ratification by the national parliaments because he’s scared that would mean the end of it. And for good reason: Belgium has already spoken up against CETA; France have been outspoken in their opposition to TTIP; and Germany is facing internal battles over the deals.
Our heads of state can overrule Juncker and the Commission. We need to keep the pressure up – and tell Juncker and our heads of government that in this new post-Brexit European Union, backroom deals and playing with our democratic rights are not acceptable!
WeMove EU team