Day three in Brussels began with an early morning meeting with the provincial government negotiators for Ontario, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Quebec, and Newfoundland – Labrador. This was an opportunity for the Trade Justice Network/RQIC delegation to raise concerns and pose questions about the status of key CETA issues such as pharmaceutical costs, water, labour standards, and the treatment of energy utilities like hydro.
Blair Redlin and Carol Ferguson then joined Larry Brown (NUPGE) and Teresa Healy (CLC) at the International Trade Union House for meetings with sisters and brothers from the European and international labour movements.
Our visit to Brussels coincided with a meeting of union researchers from around the globe organized by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). This was a good opportunity to discuss CETA with specialists who work with trade agreements in a wider global context.
A second discussion was led by two faculty members with expertise in EU trade agreements from Ghent University in Belgium. Canada’s experience with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and its investor rights provisions is of particular interest to Europeans who are now facing a similar proposal for the CETA.
Our final meeting at ITU House was with Judith Kirton-Darling, the recently elected Confederal Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), whose responsibilities include trade issues. Sister Kirton-Darling is originally from UNITE in the UK. The ETUC is the equivalent of the CLC in Europe. It is made up of 83 National Trade Union Confederations from 36 European countries as well as 12 European industry federations, with a total of 60 million members. We discussed ideas for closer work on CETA between the Canadian and European labour movements.
Meanwhile, other members of the TJN/RQIC delegation spent the day meeting with European cultural groups on intellectual property provisions and seeking their support for a broad cultural exemption in CETA.
The day concluded with the full delegation meeting with Martin Koehler, international trade advisor to The Greens/European Free Alliance who briefed us on recent meetings of the European Parliament Committee on International Trade.
CUPE is part of a delegation in Europe this week to oppose the Canada-European Union trade deal called CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement). Negotiators for Canada and the European Union are holding a critical eighth round of negotiations for a sweeping new trade deal that increases health care costs for Canadians, threatens Canada’s public water, gives extensive powers to corporations, and limits local democratic control for municipal governments. CUPE staffers Blair Redlin and Carol Ferguson are in Brussels to lobby Members of the European Parliament (MEPs); meet with unions and civil society groups; and monitor the negotiations.
Learn more about the dangers of CETA: