Germany is showing some gumption in recent trade talks. A comment at the site goes beyond the article to suggest that it is the German people who are influencing a none too brazen government. The German people have successfully lobbied a few times, and actually led much of the effort to create the favorable conditions for their renewable energy strength, following Denmark's pioneering steps, a very lonely but robust UK effort, and all along with the US and Spain's less democratic versions. The selection below comes from Yes Magazine online.
Why Germany Is Backing Away From a Trade Deal that Lets Corporations Sue the Government
posted Aug 06, 2014
by Alexis Goldstein
A new round of international trade agreements threatens to increase corporate power over national governments. But news out of Germany suggests the deals aren't inevitable.
In a move that has many on the left cautiously celebrating, Reuters reported on July 28 that Germany might reject a new trade agreement between Canada and the European Union.
Some commentators see Germany's move as proof that organizing against the new round of trade agreements is gaining ground.The deal is called the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, or CETA. It’s part of a new wave of large, aggressive trade deals that also includes the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the United States and the European Union, and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) between 12 countries of the Pacific Rim.
If all the deals passed, they would affect more than half of the world’s economy. But the red light from Germany could signal that these agreements are not as inevitable as their advocates suggest.
Germany’s objections are centered specifically on the so-called “investor-state dispute settlement” provisions in CETA. These provisions—also known by the acronym ISDS—allow transnational corporations to take legal action against individual governments if they believe that the country’s domestic laws violate a trade agreement. And the legal disputes happen through arbitration, which is a way to settle disputes completely outside of the involved countries’ courts.
We’ve seen this movie before. Chapter 11 of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) stipulates that three-person panels of private attorneys decide who wins in disputes between corporations and individual governments. These proceedings are closed to public observation.
The fallout has been dramatic: Corporations have used the NAFTA tribunals to win big-ticket monetary settlements from the taxpayers of nations whose domestic laws interfere with corporate profits. According to a report by the consumer-rights advocacy group Public Citizen, there are 17 pending claims in which corporations are seeking a total of $38 billion through NAFTA and other deals.
The compensation won through these claims hits particularly hard in Argentina—the most frequent target of these cases according to a 2014 report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. In one example, Argentina was ordered to pay $185.3 million to the energy company BG Group, who sued for profits lost when the country froze gas prices in 2001.