NGOs Protest Against Government’s Decision to Support CETA

Total Croatia News

At its last meeting, the government adopted a decision to support the controversial trade agreement between the European Union and Canada.

At its final session on Wednesday, the outgoing government led by Prime Minister Tihomir Orešković adopted a decision to support the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), which has been signed by the European Union and Canada, reports N1 on October 12, 2016.

During the meeting, Foreign Minister Miro Kovač said that CETA was an international agreement whose goal it is to modernize economic conditions for cooperation with Canada. The total trade between Croatia and Canada amounts to 40 million euros a year and this agreement will enable Croatian companies to have easier access to Canadian market and lower tariffs, said Kovač. He added that the agreement would not affect the European business standards and would not demand any budgetary resources.

However, the decision was met with protests organized by NGOs in front of the government building. “We are here because the government, which lost the vote of confidence in Parliament, has decided on its final session to launch the proceedings for adoption of CETA, which is a harmful contract”, said Duje Prkut, one of the activists. He added that the agreement had caused a wave of protests in the European Union countries.

“With this decision, the outgoing government has accepted obligations for the next government, but also for the entire Croatia. In other countries of the European Union, long debates were held on this issue, within ruling coalitions and political parties. The interest has been shown by national parliaments because this agreement and others like it threaten to limit the sovereignty of parliaments within the EU. For some reason, the debate in Croatia has still not reached an adequate level and our initiative wants to raise awareness among citizens that this agreement will affect their health, environment, quality of life and overall social development of Croatia”, said Prkut.

Hrvoje Radovanović from Green Action explained the most contentious items in the agreement. “The most problematic is the mechanism which allows investors to completely circumvent domestic judicial systems and sue the state before international arbitration courts, if they consider that a law or government policy harms their investments. A recent example is the claim of the Italian bank Unicredito against Croatia before an arbitration court in Washington, due to a sovereign decision to try to solve the problem of loans in Swiss francs. If CETA and similar agreements which are planned globally are adopted, the number of such complaints will only grow”, he warned.


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