BVG: Trade agreement with Canada – traffic lights under pressure

BVG: Trade agreement with Canada - traffic lights under pressure
Protests against Sita in Strasbourg in 2017

The Ceta Agreement aims to eliminate large-scale customs duties in mutual trade between European and Canadian companies.

(Photo: AFP)

The Federal Constitutional Court has finally dismissed all five lawsuits by critics of the European-Canadian trade agreement CETA. The agreement provisionally entered into force in September 2017. Judges in Karlsruhe declared Tuesday that the decision at the time was not objectionable.

The Ceta Agreement aims to eliminate large-scale customs duties in mutual trade between European and Canadian companies. It is also about better access to public contracts and liberalization of trade in services. However, some particularly controversial areas are still on hold until the parliaments of all EU member states as well as Canada and the EU have ratified the agreement. 12 countries are still missing in the European Union.

Germany has not yet ratified the agreement. A decision has been postponed for years. Therefore, the Federal Constitutional Court had no opportunity to examine these areas of agreements. The court said in a statement that constitutional complaints about the slimmed-down version are “clearly baseless”.

However, the custodians of the constitution discovered provisions in treaties between the EU and Canada that could qualify as “ultraverse acts”, i.e. exceeding the competence of the EU. The judges also do not consider a touch on “constitutional identity” out of the question. But only when the Traffic Light Coalition upholds CETA can there be new lawsuits in Karlsruhe, then against the entire agreement.

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After the verdict Bielefeld European law expert Franz Meyer said, the court “just rejected everything.” The Second Senate “clearly has no great desire to be exploited in a political dispute over the pros and cons of EU free trade agreements”.

Problem avoided in alliance agreement

For the federal government, this news complicates the situation surrounding the trade deal. Sita had created a lot of controversy in the past as well. While the FDP and the Union are behind the agreement, the SPD, the Greens and the Left have serious doubts.

The new federal government initially avoided the issue in its coalition agreement. “Decision on ratification [von] We will meet Sita after the investigation is completed by the Federal Constitutional Court.”

>> Read also here: DIHK criticizes US-China deal – “to the detriment of the German economy”

However, the Constitutional Court’s decision that has now been passed puts traffic lights in an even more complicated situation. Karlsruhe did not object to the provisional admission five years earlier and thus rejected the lawsuits supported by about 200,000 people.

However, constitutional officials expressed fundamental doubts about the still open part of the treaty, particularly regarding the court and committee system employed.

The Greens and other critics also specifically criticize this point. For example, with CITA, it will offer its own arbitration courts, which will provide clarification in disputes between states and companies. However, Karlsruhe can take a final position on this premises only if the system is fully implemented – that is, when the Bundestag has ratified Sita.

What can a traffic light do now? The hope that Karlsruhe would stop SITA and not have the SPD, Greens and FDP bring their widely differing positions together is now obsolete. A clear statement of Karlsruhe, which supports one or the other side, has also not materialised.

Opposition wants to pressurize

Time is running out now. The union has long recognized the signs of the times in its opposition role and wants to use the opportunity to pressurize traffic lights.

“Following the decision of the Federal Constitutional Court, the trade agreement with Canada should finally come into force,” union faction leader Jens Spahn told Handelsblatt. Germany should not be Sita’s blocker. “If not with Canada, who do we want to do business with?” Spahn said.

The CDU/CSU parliamentary group intends to submit a proposal for CETA ratification to the Bundestag this week. According to coalition circles, if the traffic lights do not have a uniform position, you are quite duped.

On Tuesday morning, shortly after the verdict was announced, state secretaries of traffic lights and economic politicians discussed the topic. According to government circles, the direction of the decision was already known in the ministries yesterday, and discussions have begun for a unified position.

Judging by the first reactions, this is likely to be a difficult task. Green was cautious. “We will now examine the decision and, without any time pressure, begin consultations with our traffic light partners on how to deal with SETA,” parliamentary group leader Katharina Droge told Handelsblatt.

On the other hand, the matter is clear for FDP. “We have a clear agreement in the coalition agreement, and we have to put it into practice now,” said his spokesman for economic policy, Reinhard Hauben. The FDP has a clear position in favor of Sita and is confident that “we will convince our Green Alliance partner to do so”.

More: Foreign Trade President Jandura: “The future of free trade sometimes lies with Habek”

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