CETA : The French Parliament votes against the ISDS

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AITEC & ATTAC | 4 December 2014

CETA : The French Parliament votes against the ISDS

Translated by : Anoosha Boralessa (Feb 2016). Not reviewed by bilaterals.org or any other organization or person.

At the end of November, both chambers of parliament rejected integrating the investor-state dispute resolution mechanism into CETA. The resolutions voted should substantially influence France’s position in the forthcoming discussions scheduled at the EU Council on the EU – Canada Free Trade Agreement.

The National Assembly made its voice clearly heard
First of all, on 23 November last year, the National Assembly adopted a resolution that explicitly opposed including an investor-state dispute settlement mechanism (ISDS) in the agreement. Accordingly, it requested that Chapter 10 and 33 of the treaty text on foreign investment protection be redrafted. It also demands detailed clarifications on "the procedures for composition, entitlement to jurisdiction, decision-making and regulation of the regulatory cooperation process".

This resolution extends the resolution already passed last May by the same Assembly. That resolution included safeguards and similar requests on the draft Transatlantic Treaty currently under negotiation.

An Explicit Resolution of the Senate

On 27 November, the Senate in its turn adopted a text "inviting the government to take effective action with the European institutions to promote increased transparency in trade negotiations, with the full association of both Chambers of the French Parliament to the negotiations, and particularly the revision of CETA, chapters 10 and 33 in order to guarantee that public communities are fully able to exercise their sovereignty and their right to regulate. According to the text, instead of responding to this demand, "it would be preferable to abandon the section dedicated to investment protection in the global agreement negotiated with Canada".

A Parliamentary Safeguard to Ratification

These resolutions are not mandatory nor are they regulatory ; that said, they mark the position of both chambers of the French Parliament. Therefore, the clear opposition of national representation to the most problematic aspects of CETA marks a major signal to the destination of the government which will have to take account of the next steps in the process. [1]

Aitec and Attac welcome the adoption of these two texts and the attention that the Parliamentarians brought to our arguments. While France declares to have expressed “technical” reservations on CETA’s Investment Chapter, these resolutions that take into account citizens’ concerns [2], gives it the means to take a fearless position in the Council. Mr. Fekl, the French Secretary of State for Foreign Trade, will also be able to announce it to the new Trade Commissioner, C. Malmström during her next visit to Paris, on 15 December. The French civil society organizations invited to this meeting, for their part, will not miss communicating the specific terms of this position to Mrs Malmström.

Footnotes :

[1] The free trade agreement between the EU and Canada was finalized at the beginning of August 2014. The European Commission entered into the long procedure of its formal adoption at the end of last September following a common policy declaration of S. Harper, J.M. Barroso and H. Van Rompuy when the latter two made an official visit to Ottawa.
CETA should be submitted to the 28 heads of state and governments around Spring 2015, then to the European Parliament to ratify in the final quarter of next year. If it is declared "mixed" by the Commission’s legal services and if it is approved by the trade ministers of the 28 states, it will also have to be ratified by the competent authorities of each member state. The Assembly has requested in its resolution of 23 November, that the agreement be qualified as a mixed agreement.

Member states will ratify the agreement in 2016 in the best case scenario. This process will not suspend the provisional implementation of the chapters on community competence, that is, strictly speaking, over the trade and investment aspects.

[2] See AITEC’s analysis of the CETA text : Marchander la démocratie (November 2014), and CETA, le marche-pied pour l’Accord transatlantique(September 2014)

source: AITEC