On Wednesday 15 February 2017 the European Parliament is set to adopt or reject CETA, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between the EU and Canada.

North East Labour MEPs Jude Kirton-Darling and Paul Brannen are opposing this trade deal

While currently on maternity leave, Labour's European spokesperson on CETA, Jude Kirton-Darling MEP stated: “The recent birth of my son Natan means that I cannot vote in Strasbourg this week but my position has been consistent: I cannot support a deal that is risky for public services, weakens the rule of law and is not good enough for workers and the environment.”

Paul Brannen MEP, who will take part in the vote, added: “I’m all for making trade easier because I know how much it can help the North East’s economy. But I can’t settle for any deal that would threaten the NHS. This is a line that we’re simply not prepared to cross. The proponents of the deal haven’t even been able to demonstrate that CETA would have a positive impact on jobs in the region. In other words, we’re asked to take a big risk with hardly any chance of  a return: in my mind, saying no to such a bargain is a very straightforward decision to make”.

"We must conclude trade deals that work for the many and not for the few. Trade unions have been very clear that they are against CETA because it will not be good for workers. If it doesn't work for workers then it doesn't work at all, that's why I'll be voting against CETA"

Alongside the vote on the trade agreement, the European Parliament will also adopt an accompanying non-binding resolution. Labour MEPs will vote in favour of all the amendments calling for the full exclusion of the NHS from CETA.

CETA includes a controversial mechanism known as the Investment Court System (ICS), through which multinationals will be able to sue the government outside of normal courts to seek redress against unfair treatment or expropriation.

“CETA sets a very concerning precedent” added Jude Kirton-Darling. “It is the first ever EU trade deal that includes such an ICS system, which amounts to giving businesses more rights and governments more obligations. Meanwhile, absolutely nothing of the like is foreseen for workers. Tory MPs and ministers have already presented CETA as a template for a future EU-UK trade deal. In other words, they want to take back control to hand it over to multinationals. Beyond Canada, the Labour Party must make it absolutely clear that we don’t want separate justice for multinationals in any future EU-UK deal.”

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