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People power is pushing back on CETA

By 10th March 2021 January 11th, 2024 No Comments

CETA is a dangerous deal that threatens democracy and puts the interests of big business before the interests of people, our health and environment.

The Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA), also known as the Canada-EU trade deal, is a gift to corporate investors and a threat to democracy.

CETA signs us up to the controversial investor court system (ICS), which give corporate investors the right to bypass national and EU courts when new regulations hit their profits. Corporate investors can sue governments for compensation if they feel their profits, including future profits, are affected by changes to government regulations [1]

Everything from environmental protections to consumer safety and health laws could be under threat from profit-hungry multinational companies.

Most parts of the CETA trade deal are already in force – except the chapter that signs us up for investor dispute tribunals (ICS). [2] This chapter is what the government tried to rush through the Dáil in December – and which people powered action managed to stop. They haven’t given up and will try again sometime over the next few months. [3]

With people power, we’ve made sure CETA is now under the spotlight. TDs won’t vote on this toxic deal before it has been properly discussed and scrutinised by various Dail committees. Uplift members are already making sure politicians are paying attention. For example, we sent nearly 15,000 emails in 16 hours to keep CETA on the Climate Action committee agenda. [4]

Fianna Fáil have the numbers to stop CETA and are under pressure to stay on side with their voters. They know they’re losing support and will be hoping their constituents won’t notice they’re backing a trade deal that makes it easy for greedy corporations to sue us. [5]

There are deep divisions inside political parties like Fianna Fáil about whether or not to approve investor dispute courts. One of us speaking out might not make a difference, but if thousands of us come together, we can give politicians courage. We want politicians to stand against the pressure they are feeling to back the deal no matter what, and with our help they will.

This is one of the reasons Uplift members are launching campaigns to get city and county councils to pass motions declaring their area a CETA Free Zone – forcing the fight onto the home turf of TDs and making sure people in their constituency are organising and speaking out publicly. [6]

If just a handful of city or county councils passed a motion, soon we’d have a massive bottom up movement that Fianna Fáil and other parties couldn’t ignore.

Email your councillor to put a CETA-Free Zone motion forward

CETA is a lot more than a trade deal. It’s a dangerous corporate power grab that gives multinational corporations extraordinary powers to sue us for millions of euros in shady tribunals – if they believe the government has put our interests ahead of their expected profits. [7]

The good news is that people powered communities like ours have stopped dangerous deals like CETA before – remember TTIP? [8] There’s also growing pressure to remove corporate tribunal clauses in trade deals (e.g. the EU-UK deal) so if we can hold the line on CETA future trade deals could be much fairer.

If they wanted to, Fianna Fáil could stand up for workers, nature, local businesses, housing, our health and kill this trade deal today. They have the numbers to stop this deal and they are on shaky ground – so it’s up to us to show them it’s not worth it.

Will you get involved in the push for a CETA Free Zone in your area, {{first_name}}?

Sign the petition in your local area today

Email your councillor to put a CETA-Free Zone motion forward

Here’s a handy CETA-free zone action kit so you can take more action. Click here to access it.

Even though corporate lobbyists have deep pockets, the good news is that together, we can stop these shady investor dispute courts from coming into force in CETA.

Just look what we did when we were faced with TTIP, the biggest corporate takeover attempt in our lifetime. Thousands upon thousands of us joined together, across the world and we brought that dangerous deal to its knees. Together, we can bring that same ambition and effort now to protect our democracy from a corporate takeover.

Ireland is one of the EU countries that have yet to decide – and the strength of our democracy is that all of our TDs get to vote on this – rather than the government simply signing off on the decision behind closed doors. And because politicians need us to vote for them, we have a massive opportunity to shape what happens next with CETA.

That’s why building the campaign within our communities by connecting members with their local council chambers, all the way to the Dail chamber is such a powerful and worthwhile road to take.



[1] CETA fact checker document & European Commission: CETA explained (scroll to end)

[2] Irish Examiner: Dáil vote on EU-Canada trade deal delayed as Greens and opposition raise concerns

[3] Irish Examiner: Q&A: What is the CETA deal? & Think Ireland getting sued by a tobacco company is odd? Then worry about this EU-US trade deal…

[4] Climate Action Committee agenda & Oireachtas Climate Action Committee schedule

[5] Fianna Fail: Ireland Must Complete CETA Free Trade Agreement Ratification – Kelleher (2019) & Irish Times: Government Seanad defeat as FF abstain in Higgins trade motion (2016)

[6] Uplift CETA-Free Zone campaign hub

[7] CIEL: A Multilateral Investment Court will further empower corporations at the expense of people and the environment

[8] The Guardian: People power is ending TTIP and other unpopular EU free-trade deals & TTIP-Free Zones campaign & European Commission: Status of The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)

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