On September 23 EU trade ministers met in Bratislava to discuss the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Canada. A large demonstration took place at the same time, this is Carlo Petrini’s message to the crowd and the decision makers.
“We ask the trade ministers of the countries of the European Union not to sell out our future, the climate, the environment, workers, farmers, food and more, and so to oppose the CETA, the free-trade agreement with Canada.
The CETA might seem unimportant compared to its big brother, the TTIP, but it is no less dangerous. It will have an impact on all European citizens, in one way or another, both lengthening the food supply chain and bringing more obscurity to the transparency of the food system. The CETA will lower hard-fought standards, and is the result of undemocratic discussion. The CETA will primarily promote industrial agriculture and animal farming, to the detriment of good food and good food production, and lower vital standards like the precautionary principle (encouraging instead an approach based on scientific evidence). It will also damage our gastronomic heritage, selling out many geographic indications. The agreement recognizes and respects just 173 European geographic indications, excluding over 1,200 others.
As well as offering few guarantees to the European food industry (for example, names of Italian products like “mozzarella,” “mortadella” and “gorgonzola” will be able to be used on Canadian products, as long as the Italian flag does not appear on the packaging) the CETA, which critics consider a “Trojan horse” for the TTIP, will allow multinationals active in Canada to start legal proceedings in private international tribunals against decisions made by European governments that are held to be “damaging.”
Therefore, to all those who come from countries whose governments have expressed reservations about the treaty, like Romania, Bulgaria, Poland and Slovenia, and the Belgian Parliament of Wallonia, we ask that they continue to encourage their representatives to maintain these reservations and to express their concerns. And we ask all the other governments to listen to us, to listen to you and to say a clear no to this treaty.
It is thanks to public mobilization that the European Commission has asked for parliamentary ratification, long denied, for the CETA. This shows how, if we unite our forces, we can put significant pressure on institutions. Now citizens are again called to action, to make sure that no decision of this magnitude is taken while ignoring or going against the wishes of millions of Europeans.
We must also decisively oppose the provisional application of the CETA. The agreement between the European Union and Canada must not be allowed to come into force before the national ratification process has concluded.
The governments came to the European Council meeting on September 16 very divided over the priorities of the trade agenda drawn up by the European Commission. France and Belgium publicly asked for a stop to the TTIP negotiations, while the German vice-chancellor declared the agreement politically “dead.” But politicians can’t make themselves look good by saying no to the TTIP while slipping the CETA in under the radar.
The negotiations should be stopped immediately, withdrawing the Commission’s mandate and opening up a wider consultation with civil society on the themes of commercial trade. We ask the representatives of our countries to not give up on reforming the EU’s policies in a more democratic way.
We will continue to fight together: Slow Food and the other organizations participating in the Stop TTIP and CETA campaign, along with all the other organizations, unions, environmental NGOs, farmers’ associations and local groups present.
Bratislava should lead to an abrupt stop being put on the TTIP and the CETA, as demanded by the majority of European citizens.”