The Scottish Greens have reacted angrily to the vote in the EU parliament on Wednesday 15th February which backed a free trade agreement with Canada, CETA.
Mark Ruskell MSP said:
“Scotland is being dragged into this corporate power grab by a right-wing UK Government that is happy for big business to call the shots. It’s hardly a surprise that a government hell-bent on an economically devastating Brexit doesn’t care about the environmental protections, food safety and workers’ rights that CETA threatens to sweep away.”
MEPs backed CETA, a free trade deal which has taken 5 years and 4 months to reach this stage. CETA would remove all tariffs between the EU and Canada, except those charged on public services, audiovisual and transport services and a few agricultural products. It would also lead to the mutual recognition of certifications for a wide range of products, from electrical goods to toys.
Mark Ruskell MSP raised concerns last year after discovering that NHS Scotland has not been specifically listed as being exempt, potentially leaving it open to commercial entry. According to Ruskell the deal also undermines the status of exports such as Scotch beef and lamb, Stornoway black pudding and Arbroath smokies.
In 2015 EU-Canada trade accounted for more than €60 billion and CETA is expected to boost this by 20%.
Calling on the Scottish Government to take action Mark Ruskell MSP said:
“The Scottish Government must publish its impact assessment and lay out measures it can take to protect our economy and our environment. We are close to killing off fracking in Scotland for good, and the last thing we need is for CETA to give drilling firms renewed hope.”
The CETA agreement will not only need to be approved by the European Parliament, but also by national and regional parliaments but it could already provisionally apply from April.
Once the UK leaves the EU it will not be part of CETA , however, a similar deal might feature in the negotiations. CETA negotiations have taken over 5 years. No MPs or MEPS were involved in the negotiations which were conducted under strictly secretive conditions.
CETA stands for Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement