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25th Feb 2024

German NGOs want judges to probe EU-Canada trade deal

  • A protest in Brussels. EU trade deals with Canada and the US face growing opposition (Photo: Eszter Zalan)

Three German NGOs are planning to take legal action that they hope will invalidate the EU's free-trade deal with Canada.

Bernhard Kempen, a law academic who is leading the campaign, said that the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) was "not only democratically and politically dangerous but also constitutionally alarming".

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The activists say CETA modifies the "core of [Germany's] constitutional order" because it includes a "special right to sue for investors", empowers "illegitimate" expert groups and because the German parliament is not involved.

They criticise in particular the arbitration court that would allow investors to sue states when they think authorities are acting against their interests. The court has also been one of the main controversial elements in the TTIP, the EU-US free-trade deal currently under discussion.

“CETA is TTIP through the back door,” said Thilo Bode, from Foodwatch, one of the three NGOs, with Campact and Mehr Demokratie (More Democracy), which plan to take CETA to Germany's constitutional court.

Opposition to CETA is growing in Germany, following an anti-TTIP movement that culminated in Hannover in April when 35,000 people demonstrated against the deal ahead of a visit by US president Barack Obama.

The movement to take CETA to the constitutional court got the support of a petition signed by 70,000 people, as well as from an internet petition signed by 21,000 people.

The EU-Canada deal was concluded in February and signature is planned in the autumn, when Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau comes to Brussels.

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