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Sustainability and precautionary aspects of CETA dissected

Wybe Th. Douma

elni Review 2016, Issue 2, pp. 58-63. https://doi.org/10.46850/elni.2016.009

The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU, its Member States and Canada has been presented as “the best trade agreement the EU has ever negotiated”. While there are certainly many advantages compared to older trade treaties, two remaining points of concern are investigated in this contribution.
The first one relates to the manner in which the EU utilises its own system for ensuring that sustainability concerns are integrated into trade agreements. In the first part of this contribution, it is investigated whether the manner in which the integration instrument is employed in the case of CETA, notably where the inclusion of an investor state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism is concerned, is in line with consistent, evidence-based policy choices and with the self-imposed guidelines as laid down in the so-called Trade Sustainability Impact Assessment (TSIA) Handbook.
The second part of this contribution investigates whether the continued implementation of the precautionary principle on the side of the EU is properly secured in the view of the various rules, procedures and institutional arrangements contained in the CETA text. In that respect, the findings of a detailed study on this topic are summarised first, after which some of the critique from the side of the Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation and from the EU Commissioner for Trade is examined and commented upon.

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