The EU trade ministers failed to reach mediation yesterday to pass CETA, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with Canada.
The reason for this was that the Belgian region of Wallonia rejected the process that would have led to the European Commission signing the agreement with the Canadian government on October 27. If no solution is found by the end of next week, the signing of the agreement could be postponed.
Wallonia opposed CETA for the same reasons that have triggered protests in Europe over the last few months. The agreement will promote mainly industrial farming and livestock breeding to the detriment of good food and produce, lowering vital standards such as the precautionary principle (thereby encouraging the scientific evidence-based approach, instead) and damaging our gastronomic heritage by selling short numerous geographical indications. The agreement, in fact, recognizes and respects only 173 European geographical indications, excluding more than 1,200.
Besides ensuring precious few guarantees to the European agricultural and food industry (to cite one example, the names of Italian food products such as mozzarella, mortadella and gorgonzola will be allowed to be used on Canadian products as long as the Italian flag does not appear alongside them), CETA, which critics regard as the TTIP’s “Trojan horse,” will allow multinationals active in Canada to file lawsuits in front of private international tribunals against any decisions by European governments that they deem to be damaging.
“The European Council,” declared Carlo Petrini, President of Slow Food, “must respect the democratic process and wait for the national parliaments’ decisions. The agreement between the European Union and Canada cannot enter into force, not even provisionally, until the process of national ratification has been completed. It is thanks to public mobilization that the European Commission has asked for parliamentary ratification, long denied of CETA. This shows just how much pressure we can bring to bear on the institutions if we combine our efforts. And it’s thanks to a small region like Wallonia that the process is faltering.”
Tomorrow, during the Citizens’ CETA Summit, Slow Food will organize a lunch in the square in front of the European Parliament with good, clean and fair food supplied by small producers. Not being protected by CETA, the food products served would be placed at serious risk were the agreement to be ratified.
Mayors, councilors and representatives from all over Europe who have declared their regions TTIP- and CETA-free will join a group of MEPs, Canadian guests and NGOs to meet the press and answer questions about the agreement during what will be an important week for CETA negotiations, and will sign a public declaration of opposition to the provisions envisaged by the agreement.
We would like to call on our politicians to not barter our future, the climate, the environment, workers, farmers’ food and so on, and to oppose CETA, the free trade treaty with Canada.