Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture, Matt Carthy TD, has accused the Government of attempting to use the cover of crunch Brexit negotiations to sneak through a vote in the Dáil on the controversial CETA trade deal.
The Cavan-Monaghan TD said there was a need for a comprehensive analysis of the implications of the deal before any ratification vote is brought before the Oireachtas.
Teachta Carthy said:
“For over four years now, Sinn Féin has been calling for a substantive Dáil debate on the EU-Canadian Comprehensive and Economic Trade Agreement (CETA). Despite repeated requests, successive governments have blocked any discussion on the deal.
“Yet, with little warning they attempted to rush through a short debate and quick ratification in the last Dáil this week in the midst of crunch Brexit negotiations.
“That such a vote would take place with no consideration to the genuine concerns that have been raised by farmers, environmentalists, Trade Unionists, small businesses, and others, is deeply worrying.
“CETA is not a trade deal like we traditionally know them. It’s part of what the European Commission calls a series of ‘new generation trade deals’. By this they mean that the primary concern of CETA and similar agreements isn’t the reduction of tariffs, the historical purpose of trade deals.
“The ‘new generation’ deals are instead about the elimination of ‘non-tariff barriers’.
“But ‘non-tariff barriers’ is just another term to describe the protections that are in place to defend the environment, the rights of workers and progressive policies of a state.
“At the heart of CETA and similar deals is the inclusion of an Investor Court System. This is a new court only accessible to foreign (in this case Canadian) multinational corporations.
“It gives those corporations the right to sue national governments in Europe for compensation for the loss of expected future profits in response to government actions that impact on the company’s activities.
“In the past these types of courts have been used to target minimum wage increases, tobacco regulations, bans on fracking and public ownership policies.
“Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil representatives have suggested that CETA will create jobs and increase economic growth. There is no evidence that it will do either. In fact, all indicators point to the fact that, if there are to be winners, it will be multinationals at the expense of indigenous Irish-owned companies.
“The full implications of the deal are unknown because the Irish government have refused to carry out a detailed analysis of what it will mean, even for our most important and vulnerable indigenous sectors.
“Many farmers, for example, are alarmed at the risks CETA and similar deals will present to Irish agriculture, especially the beef sector.
“The Canadian deal alone allows an additional 50tonnes of beef to enter the EU market but nobody can tell what level Irish product will be distorted by this because the government hasn’t bothered to assess the threat.
“Clearly, post Brexit, the implications could be even worse, and that might explain why the government intended to push this deal through the Dáil in the last sitting week of 2020.
“The difficultly with CETA is that, of those who have examined its implications, the vast majority have concluded that the risks far outweigh the benefits, not only for Ireland but for the EU as a whole and for Canada also.
“Once CETA is ratified it cannot be undone. That is why so many people have expressed concern at the rushed nature of the government’s actions.
“If they are so confident that this trade agreement will be good for Ireland, then surely Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael will not object to a robust public debate on the matter.
“Surely, they will conduct a full impact assessment. The fact that they have done neither to date should be evidence enough that many of the concerns are justified.”