UN Expert Warns EU, Canada Against Signing CETA Deal Without Referendums

The EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) is deeply flawed and should not be signed or ratified without a referendum in each state, a United Nations rights expert said.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The CETA deal is set to be signed on Sunday at an EU-Canada summit.

“The corporate-driven agenda gravely endangers labour, health and other social legislation, and there is no justification to fast-track it … Civil society should demand referendums on the approval of CETA or any other such mega-treaty that has been negotiated behind closed doors,” Alfred de Zayas, the UN Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, said Friday, as quoted by the UN Geneva Office.

According to de Zayas, the European Union should have taken notice of expert warnings regarding the deal, as well as the opposition of the civil society to it.

“CETA – along with most trade and investment agreements – is fundamentally flawed unless specific provision stipulates that the regulatory power of States is paramount and must not be impacted by a regulatory chill.”

CETA aims to establish a free trade zone between Canada and the European Union. In 2013, Ottawa and Brussels reached an agreement on key elements of the deal. European critics of CETA claim it would undermine standards and regulations on environmental protection, health and safety and workers’ rights.

The agreement was at first blocked by Belgium’s French-speaking region of Wallonia but on Thursday Prime Minister Charles Michel said that the parties had finally managed to reach consensus.