With the decision about CETA soon to be made by our government, we feel patriotically obliged to write about the agreement.
Firstly, the question of what actually is CETA? needs to answered. The abbreviation stands for Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, which would be made between Canada and countries of European Union. The pact had been secretly discussed over the year 2009-2014, ending with the Ottawa ceremony. Its main assumption is abolishment of tariff barriers between the EU and Canada, which is supposed to improve economical situation of both parties. The question is, will the change be really positive for both sides? Let us consider the potential consequences for Europe.
Economical and social factor
The first thing that comes to mind is the change in food market. As it will most probably be flooded with Canadian products, local farmers and producers may lose any raison d’être. Millions of families can be devoid of their main (or only) source of income, results of which we do not need to explain. There is already high competition on the food market, so corporate giants from North America can remove many competitors completely from the area.
The treaty is expected to be a gateway for large concerns to possess Canadian customers, however, this might just as well be an illusion. It is not certain whether Canada is actually interested in European products and not in export purely.
These are not groundless speculations, as a similar situation took place when NAFTA (The North American Free Trade Agreement) was introduced and implemented in Mexico. 1 million workplaces in agriculture were lost and some farmers were taken into half-slavish homesteads, while over 6 million people had to emigrate. The country felt into social and environmental degradation, without much hope for improvement.
Major issue that comes with the inflow of foreign food, is the way in which it is produced. Canadian manufacturers are known for extensive usage of antibiotics, growth hormones, pesticides and, of course, GMO. We are not claiming these artificial production methods are not used in EU, however, on significantly smaller scale. For instance, Europe permits only one type of genetically modified corn to be marketed, while nearly all of the grains, fruits and vegetables in Canada are produced with GMO. Another aspect are pesticides, as, after signing CETA, food with 82 additional substances currently forbidden in Europe will most probably enter our market.
It is not necessary to remind anyone that all of the aforementioned food production techniques significantly reduce its quality, not to mention the health of its consumers.
Last but not least, CETA can be a catalyst for serious environmental changes in the EU, as a result of import of energy produced with carbon intensive tar sands. This type of energy is extremely damaging for the environment, during the mining as well as exploitation process. Unfortunately, it will probably be more economic for deliverers to base on this type of energy, so our current sources would most probably be neglected – not to mention climate protection, which would surely go into the abyss of oblivion.
Of course, there are only a few of the consequences that may arise from signing the agreement. Today, we focused mostly on the ones connected with health and environment, but the subject is surely much broader than this. Another important aspect is, for instance, the ICS protocol, however, this is a subject for another article.
Should CETA be signed by EU? Will it bring more benefits or drawbacks? We cannot wait to read your opinions!