Globalisation needs rules to ensure it does not lead to a race to the bottom in terms of standards. In principle, free-trade agreements can help to establish high standards in the conditions for competition and to advance fair and sustainable world trade. If TTIP and CETA are to become fair free-trade agreements, however, a number of changes are still required. This applies in particular to the draft text of the CETA free-trade agreement between the EU and Canada, which has already been made public. The Parliamentary Left in the SPD parliamentary group in the Bundestag is calling for changes in the following areas:
1. Investment protection
Investments involve obligations as well as rights. Protecting businesses’ profit expectations must not lead to national legislation being undermined. Financial market transactions are not regular investments – and that must be made clear in the agreement.
2. Dispute settlement mechanisms
We oppose investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanisms. The investment protection provisions in CETA must be interpreted by public courts with a duty to consider the public interest. The public judicial monopoly must be preserved.
3. Regulatory cooperation
The planned regulatory cooperation must not obstruct democratic legislative processes. Its aim must be to secure the highest standards in each case. There must be no retrograde steps with regard to regulation.
4. Social standards and the precautionary principle
The agreement must enshrine a binding requirement for the parties to comply with and implement social and sustainable-development standards. This applies in particular to the ILO core labour standards, in order to prevent one-sided competitive advantages at the expense of good working conditions. In addition, European consumers must be able to rely on the tests which products undergo before they are authorised for sale (precautionary principle).
5. Services sector
Only the services which are expressly specified may be liberalised (positive-list approach). This will ensure that it remains possible to decide not to liberalise certain areas in future. We oppose the negative-list approach provided for in the draft. Under no circumstances can the agreement be allowed to prevent parts of public services from being returned to public ownership.