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German politicians and the protection of workers‘ and consumers‘ rights in CETA and TTIP

04 December 2014
Photo Christopher Dombres
Sigmar Gabriel, the German Minister of Economics, Vice Chancellor and Chairman of the German social democratic party SPD, has repeatedly declared opposition to investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) in CETA and TTIP.

The ISDS offers enterprises the opportunity to sue states when they adopt rules that reduce their profits. A declaration in which Gabriel and the German trade union confederation DGB jointly formulate aims and demands on TTIP reads: “In any case investor-state dispute settlements are to be rejected“. The declaration contains many desirable statements on the protection of workers, consumers, the environment and supports the right to the freedom of democratic decisions. The SPD Convention adopted the declaration as the basis for the current TTIP negotiations.

Against this background, the position of the SPD towards several Acts of the German Parliament ‘Bundestag’ on 25 September 2014 comes as a surprise. SPD parliamentarians did not support motions that opposed CETA because it contains the criticized investor-state dispute settlement and contradicts the minimum requirements in the declaration of DGB and SPD. The majority of MPs – including the social democratic votes again – also opposed a motion aiming at making the criteria formulated by DGB and SPD the basis for the German government’s position in the current TTIP negotiations.

In direct conflict with his earlier position, Gabriel recently declared that it was not possible to remove investor protection clauses from CETA. In line with the new minister’s statement, the EU Trade Commissioner also only talks about “minor amendments” to the CETA treaty.

The conflicts around CETA will also have consequences for TTIP. It would be naïve to believe the EU and the USA would settle for signing a TTIP treaty without ISDS when this has already been agreed with Canada.

These recent developments confirm PSI’s position that CETA, TTIP and the multilateral free trade agreement TiSA pose serious threats to workers and citizens, if they themselves do not succeed in stopping these agreements by their broad protests. All experiences with existing free trade agreements confirm that the assurances of politicians have little in common with subsequent realities – not only when it is about antidemocratic investor protection, but also when they promise to secure the protection of employees, consumers and environment.

Download and read the original article in German.

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