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Exploring CETA’ s Relation to Environment Law

Delphine Misonne

elni Review 2016, Issue 2, pp. 46-53.

This article gives an introduction on the potential impact of CETA on environmental law.
CETA – The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement negotiated between Canada, the European Union and its 28 Member States, still awaiting ratification – is likely to have an impact on environmental law, even if it cannot be categorized as an environmental treaty. CETA provides a definition of what environmental law means, it mentions that “it is inappropriate to encourage trade or investment by weakening the levels of protection afforded in their environmental law,” it establishes a panel of experts which must have specialized knowledge or expertise in environmental law, it reaffirms “the rights of the Parties to regulate to achieve legitimate policy objectives, such as the protection of public health and the environment,” it mentions that “Parties are committed to high levels of protection for the environment” but also adds that this is “in accordance to the TBT Agreement, the SPS Agreement, the GATT 1994, the GATS and this Agreement,” it contains a whole chapter on ‘Trade and Sustainable Development’ and a whole chapter on ‘Trade and Environment.’ But the question must be asked of whether it sufficiently captures and accommodates the possible confrontation between a trade vision and an investment-protection vision. In that regard, scholarship and UNEP have been long quite clear that the transition towards a greener economy, even if fully WTO-consistent, could include considerable drawbacks from the application of investment disciplines – through the possible award of substantial amounts in damages. CETA seeks definitely to carve out more space for environmental regulation within investment disciplines, but does it go far enough?

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