This Public Service Day, EPSU launches a series of online actions against the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), the controversial free trade deal negotiated between the EU and Canada. We call on national governments to reject this dangerous deal for the sake of public services, workers and democracy itself.
Public Service Day has and always will be one of the most important dates in the EPSU calendar. It is a day for EPSU members to come together with friends and colleagues across the globe, in celebration of the vital role that public services and their workers play in facilitating the daily functioning of our lives and communities. It is a day to rise up against the tightening grip of austerity that is placing unforeseen pressures on public services and workers and increasing efforts by governments to place the management of these services into private hands.
EPSU believes that CETA represents an attack on public services as never before seen, and we have a wealth of research to support our claims. It’s no surprise, then, that CETA forms the focus of EPSU’s Public Service Day actions last year for the second year in a row. This year, however, our message on Public Service Day has taken on a whole new urgency. With the text of CETA now finalised and formal signature of the agreement expected to take place as early as September 2016, there is no time left to lose in the fight to defeat this dangerous deal.
For a long time, CETA was able to largely slip under the radar of the media and public as negotiations between the EU and Canada were conducted in secret. Yet with it’s finer details now made public, it is clear is that this is not a good deal for Europe.
CETA is not the same as previous trade agreements, and contains a raft of new provisions that will strip public services of protections that today we take for granted. The ‘negative list’ approach used in CETA means that all services will be exposed to private takeover and investment unless they are explicitly excluded by national governments. A further two clauses in CETA threaten to prevent future governments from bringing back services into public ownership – so rendering permanent all present and future privatisation. This would apply even when past liberalisations have proven to be failures.
Perhaps most worryingly of all, CETA contains far-reaching protections for investors that throw into doubt the very nature of decision-making and governance. While CETA’s revised investor protection mechanism (Investment Court System – or ICS) is an improvement on the toxic and much-criticised Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS), it nonetheless fails to meet the mark. Under CETA’s Investor Court System – or ICS – investors will be granted special rights to sue governments for policies that threaten their profits.
This is not mere speculation: previous attempts to regulate public services have already been targets of investor claims via existing bilateral trade deals, and CETA threatens to continue this trend. Under CETA, sectors including education, water, health, social welfare and pensions vulnerable to all kinds of investor attacks.
For all these reasons and more, EPSU rejects CETA and calls on national governments to do the same. We are not alone: public and political anger and resistance against CETA just keeps getting stronger. But in order to truly turn the tide on this bad deal we must persuade national governments to reject it, too. As such, EPSU we stage a series of actions in the coming weeks to demonstrate the strength of trade union feeling against this dangerous trade deal, beginning on Public Service Day and continuing throughout the week of 27 June – 1 July. All campaign materials can be found at www.epsu.org/CETA.
Together we can fight to stop this dangerous deal – Say no to CETA!