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A Canada-Style Trade Deal With The EU Will Be Bad For Britain

10/02/2017 10:06 | Updated 10 February 2017
Ben Birchall/PA Archive

Not only is Britain leaving the EU. The government wants to go further and pull us out of the single market. That means we'll need to make a new trade deal with the EU. And ministers are cooking up a plan that could be terrible for working people.

Brexit Secretary David Davis says that the 'perfect starting point' is the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between the EU and Canada (CETA).

This should worry us. CETA is a dreadful deal and it should not set a template for Britain's trade deal with the EU or anywhere else. That's why, when CETA comes before the European Parliament next Wednesday, trade unions in Britain and across Europe will ask MEPs to vote against it.

CETA is bad for your rights at work

The CETA deal does nothing to protect workers' rights in Canada. If the UK goes for a similar deal, politicians will be able to slice away at our employment rights.

Rights to maternity leave, holiday pay, working time and health and safety would be at risk. And workers will no longer be able to go to the European Court of Justice to get their rights enforced. The same goes for consumer and environmental rights. We'd end up the second class citizens of Europe.

CETA is bad for democracy

CETA will take control away from voters, and give it to multinational corporations. Foreign investors will gain huge powers to influence UK laws by suing our government in special courts if our parliament passes laws they think threaten their profits.

These special courts, known as the Investment Court System, or ICS, would threaten the NHS and other public services.

Even after we leave the EU, if CETA is passed then ICS will continue to apply to the UK for twenty years. And if there's a form of ICS in a future UK-EU deal, our public services would be under even greater threat. The promise to 'take back control' would be broken, and we will lose the sovereignty people voted to get back.

If we do not want to hand control of the NHS, workers' rights, and consumer and environmental protections to foreign investors, our MEPs must reject CETA. And the UK government must rule out a UK-EU deal modelled on it.

CETA is bad for jobs and living standards

Even without ICS, a CETA-style deal would hit jobs and living standards.

CETA cuts tariffs on trade between Europe and Canada, but only in some sectors. At the moment, being members of the EU's single market means all our goods are traded tariff-free in the rest of the EU, and we pay no tariffs on imported goods.

If we end up with a CETA-style deal, our exports to Europe will be more expensive. Imported food, clothing and other goods will cost more in our shops. And the trade in services that our economy depends on could be blocked by regulation and red tape

If our exports cost more, we'll sell less, and good jobs in export industries will be at risk. On top of that, everyone's living standards would decline because of the increased cost of imports.

There is a better alternative for Britain's working people

Workers must not pay the price for Brexit. Nor should we lose control to foreign investors. So instead of the flawed CETA model, the government must pursue a new approach that's best for Britain.

Our post-Brexit relationship with the EU must deliver decent jobs, fairer distribution of the benefits of growth, and rights at work that match - or surpass - those in the rest of Europe.
Our future UK-EU trade deal must ensure tariff-free trade for goods, and barrier-free trade for services. And it must guarantee working people at least the same minimum levels of employment protection as EU workers.

We have already seen that changes are possible. CETA has already been delayed and amended thanks to people lobbying their political representatives. If you do not want CETA agreed by the EU, or used as a template for the UK's future relationship with the EU, please urge your MEPs to oppose CETA next week.

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