Although the treaty has already entered into force since 2017, the Lower and Upper Chamber still have to approve it. The majority is tight. The smallest government party, ChristenUnie, has threatened not to provide support if it is not reassured about animal welfare and food safety. Kaag emphasizes that even under Ceta, the EU can maintain and increase its own rules in that area. Pesticides that are banned in the EU remain so.
Concerns about imminent arbitrage cases from rich investors, raised at Radar, are also unjustified, Kaag writes. The treaty includes an Investment Court System (ICS), which gives investors the right to take a case against a state in the event of a sudden change in legislation at an international arbitration court. But governments keep the right to regulation. “For example, Ceta does not stand in the way of a sugar tax or a tough climate policy.”
The fact that the Netherlands is a party to 80 investment treaties is “strong proof that there is no reason to fear massive claims.” “There has never been a claim against the Netherlands under those treaties. The case concerning the Mexican sugar tax quoted by Radar was not about Mexico’s right to introduce it for public health, but the fact that it only applied to foreign products.
Even more than the Christian Union, the role of the PvdA is striking. The party was still passionately defending the treaty during the previous government’s term, current MP Ploumen. As Kaag’s predecessor, she helped the treaty come into being. The Social Democrats also want trade unions and environmental organizations to be able to use ICS, the investment protection arbitration court.
“Spreading fake news”
When distributing fake news about Ceta, Kaag referred to, among other things, TV program Radar, which paid attention to the trade treaty on Monday evening. The consumer program mainly approached the subject from the perspective of the environment and animal welfare. That is perhaps not surprising, given the background of presenter Antoinette Hertsenberg, wife of Animal Party founder Niko Koffeman.