Ceta ratification approved despite protests


Anti Ceta protestors applaud Déi Lénk parliamentarian Marc Baum outside the Cercle Municipal on Wednesday afternoon.Photo: Chamber of Deputies via Twitter 

Members of parliament representing the three coalition parties, DP, LSAP and Déi Gréng, on Wednesday voted to formally adopt the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between the EU and Canada into Luxembourg law. The so-called Ceta deal had already been approved by the European Parliament in 2017 and some 14 member states have also ratified the agreement.

Wednesday’s vote was marked by a walk out from CSV opposition deputies, after a motion to postpone the vote was dismissed the previous day. The eight MPs representing the Pirate party, Déi Lénk and the ADR voted against the bill. Déi Lénk had tweeted on Tuesday that the decision to go ahead with the vote was a “slap in the face for democracy.”

During Wednesday’s debate, CSV MP and former European Commissioner Viviane Reding addressed one of the main motions being adopted in the bill, the introduction of the so-called Investment Court System to replace the Investor-State Dispute Settlement scheme. The latter, she said, was “private justice” which gave big companies an advantage. But Déi Lénk’s David Wagner remained unconvinced. He said that the ICS was an improvement on the ISDS but was retrogressive compared to the rule of law. “And a step backwards compared to the rule of law is now being interpreted as progress. I don’t understand this at all,” Wagner said.

Protestors, many from the “Stop TTIP & CETA” and “Votum Klima” also gathered on the place d’Armes outside the Cercle Municipal where parliament is temporarily sitting to respect social distancing in the chamber. But foreign minister Jean Asselborn said that comparisons with Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership--the trade deal negotiations between the United States and the EU that was effectively killed off by the European Commission in April last year—were invalid. Ceta was not an attempt to break standards as the USA had tried to do with TTIP, Asselborn said. “Ceta had the misfortune of being lumped in with that,” he told parliament.