Last-ditch call for Council to scrap dangerous trade deal with Japan
Left MEPs are urging Council to reconsider a trade deal with Japan as it meets tomorrow to give the agreement a green light. The Japan-EU Free Trade Agreement (JEFTA) will likely be signed during a Summit with Prime Minister Shinzō Abe next week in Brussels. The European Parliament will still have to give its final approval before the deal can be ratified later this year.
MEP Helmut Scholz (DIE LINKE, Germany) explained what´s at stake: “I doubt Council is taking a long-term perspective with their decision tomorrow when they sneak through the free trade agreement with Japan. If you were concerned about CETA, you should be worried about JEFTA. The Commission considers it a CETA+ agreement. It transfers decisions on regulatory reform from parliament to working groups of civil servants that take advice from businesses, industry and financial stakeholders.”
“The agreement exposes Japanese farmers to the competition of highly-subsidised products from Europe. It is not an exaggeration to say that centuries-old traditions in Japanese rural areas will be endangered.”
Scholz charged that the EU has learnt no lessons from the debate about CETA´s impact on environmental protection: “JEFTA is even weaker. During the entire negotiation process, the EU raised no issue about Japan´s whale hunting. Ending this cruel practise should have been a precondition for signing any deal on fisheries with the Japanese government.”
“Furthermore, the agreement exposes European car workers to competition from the exploitative Japanese labour market, where unpaid over-time hours is the norm, where death by exhaustion (Karoshi) is commonplace. The labour rights chapter of the agreement is weak and lacks any enforcement. Our demand for a binding dispute settlement tool in the Trade and Sustainable Development (TSD) chapter has been ignored."
Scholz also questioned the undemocratic way in which the agreement came about: “How many national parliaments have been consulted before taking this decision? Has there been a transparent public debate in the national or even regional parliaments? Without debate and democratic accountability in member states, citizens will become alienated from the EU´s trade policy. This will lead to further weakening of trust in the EU.”