[ffii] CETA threatens Internet, health and democracy

Ante Wessels ante at ffii.org
Thu Jan 31 10:23:13 CET 2013

[ CETA / Economy / Innovation ]
CETA threatens Internet, health and democracy

Brussels, 31 January 2013 -- A draft trade agreement between the
European Union and Canada (CETA) threatens the Internet, health
and democracy, according to the Foundation for a Free
Information Infrastructure (FFII). The agreement contains an
investor-state arbitration clause, which gives multinational
companies the right to directly sue states in international
tribunals. CETA places these arbitration tribunals above the
high courts of Europe and Canada.

Bypass democracy

Investor-state arbitration clauses give multinationals the right
to sue countries if they dislike legislative changes. Tobacco
company Philip Morris sued Australia over the Tobacco Plain
Packaging Bill, which introduced restrictions on the use of
cigarette company's logos on cigarette packets and allow for
more space for health warnings. After Australia’s High Court
dismissed the legal challenge, Philip Morris launched an
investor-state case. As a result, Australia decided not to sign
treaties with investor-state arbitration clauses any more.

The EU and Canada have been negotiating the Comprehensive
Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) since 2009. Negotiations
took place behind closed doors, and the draft texts are still
secret. The website bilaterals.org and Kriton Arsenis, a member
of the European Parliament Committee on Environment, Public
Health and Food Safety, revealed the existence of the
investor-state arbitration clause. Arsenis criticizes the
arbitration clause as an easy way to bypass democracy.

Conflicts of Interest

Multinationals see reform of legislation that could reduce their
profits as expropriation and demand high damages. FFII analyst
Ante Wessels: "In recent years, arbitration tribunals
increasingly stretched the concept of expropriation. Lawyers
advise multinationals in setting up investment structures, and
these same attorneys and their office colleagues also act as
arbitrators in tribunals. This gives rise to conflicts of

Block Reforms

The FFII notes the negative impact on innovation and the
Internet. The trade agreement with Canada will allow
multinational companies to attack legislative reforms and
protect old business models. This endangers reform of copyright
and patent law.

Ante Wessels: "The Internet suffers from an excessive
enforcement of an outdated copyright. Filtering, blocking and
banning links hamper the functioning of the Internet. CETA will
give multinationals the possibility to thwart necessary


EU trade commissioner Karel De Gucht will visit Canada on 6
February 2013 in the hope of concluding the trade talks. A day
earlier, he will visit the US to prepare trade talks with the

On 7-8 February, the EU's 27 heads of state and government will
meet in Brussels to discuss trade and foreign affairs.


Arbitration clause in EU-Canada trade agreement, an easy way to
bypass democracy
Kriton Arsenis MEP

Canada, EU in final push for trade deal; latest investment
chapter shows blatant pro-investor bias

FFII blog on IP, innovation and trade:

General information:
Brewing Storm over ISDR Clouds: Trans-Pacific Partnership Talks
Part I
Part II

Permanent link to this press release:


Ante Wessels 
ante (at) ffii.org 
+31 6 100 99 063 

FFII Office Berlin 
Malmöer Str. 6 
D-10439 Berlin 
Fon: +49-30-41722597 
Fax Service: +49-721-509663769
Email: office (at) ffii.org

About FFII

The FFII is a not-for-profit association active in twenty
European countries, dedicated to the development of information
goods for the public benefit, based on copyright, free
competition, open standards. More than 1000 members, 3,500
companies and 100,000 supporters have entrusted the FFII to act
as their voice in public policy questions concerning exclusion
rights (intellectual property) in data processing.

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