CETA places itself above EU Charter of Fundamental Rights

This is the second in a series of blogs on CETA and privacy. (blog one: CETA and mass surveillance)

The draft EU-Canada trade agreement CETA contains a general exception that is supposed to be a safeguard for policy space. However, this safeguard places CETA above the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU. CETA final draft Chapter 28 Exceptions, article 28.3 (2), page 212, reads:

“For the purposes of Chapters Nine (Cross-Border Trade in Services), Ten (Temporary Entry and Stay of Natural Persons for Business Purposes), Twelve (Domestic Regulations), Thirteen (Financial Services), Fourteen (International Maritime Transport Services), Fifteen (Telecommunications), Sixteen (Electronic Commerce), and Sections B (Establishment of investments) and C (Non- discriminatory treatment) of Chapter Eight (Investment), subject to the requirement that such measures are not applied in a manner which would constitute a means of arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination between the Parties where like conditions prevail, or a disguised restriction on trade in services, nothing in this Agreement shall be construed to prevent the adoption or enforcement by a Party of measures necessary:
(a) to protect public security or public morals or to maintain public order; 31
(b) to protect human, animal or plant life or health; 32 or
(c) to secure compliance with laws or regulations which are not inconsistent with the provisions of this Agreement including those relating to:
(i) the prevention of deceptive and fraudulent practices or to deal with the
effects of a default on contracts;
(ii) the protection of the privacy of individuals in relation to the processing and dissemination of personal data and the protection of confidentiality of individual records and accounts; or
(iii) safety.” (emphasis added)

Measures the EU would take to protect the public interest can go against CETA (“nothing in this Agreement”).

CETA and mass surveillance

In February 2016 the European Commission and Canadian government published the final draft text of the EU – Canada trade agreement (CETA). Before that the Court of Justice of the EU in October 2015 invalidated the Safe Harbour framework that allowed the transfer of European citizens’ data to the United States. The Court confirmed that cross border data transfer frameworks need robust privacy safeguards. However, during the legal scrub the European Commission did not make the CETA text compatible with the Court’s Safe Harbour ruling. This incompatibility exposes our privacy to interference.

EU consultation on IP enforcement; FFII submission

The European Commission has launched a consultation on the intellectual property rights enforcement directive (IPRED). The European Digital Rights initiative (EDRi) explains:

“Injunctions, internet blocking, blackmailing of individuals accused of unauthorised peer-to-peer filesharing — the so-called IPRED Directive has been very controversial. Now, the European Commission has launched a consultation on the Directive (…) The consultation is of great importance not only to those working on copyright or ‘intellectual property rights’ in general, but in fact crucial to anyone using the Internet.” Indeed! EDRi has prepared a very helpful answering tool.

CETA: Who pulled the plug on the right to regulate?

The European Commission published the text of the draft EU-Canada trade agreement (CETA), which includes an investor-to state dispute settlement (ISDS) section. According to an Inside U.S. Trade’s World Trade Online article Canada succeeded in “changing the language from the EU’s TTIP proposal in a way that sources on both sides of the debate agreed would provide less protection for governments against challenges by investors.” The article reports that U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Sean Heather argued that the CETA changes to the right to regulate show that the Canadian government rejected the EU’s previous approach. However, an alternative explanation is possible. A few weeks earlier the commission published the text of the EU-Vietnam agreement.

EU commission goes into denial mode regarding effect ISDS on software patents

Companies could use investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS) in trade agreements to challenge refusals to grant software patents, FFII’s Benjamin Henrion argued during the 24 February 2016 TTIP stakeholder’s presentations. Successful challenges could undermine the European Patent Convention’s exclusion of software, the recent US Supreme Court’s limits on patentability, and Congressional patent reform. Henrion noted that the SME where he worked had to fire ten software developers after a major customer was attacked by a patent troll and discontinued a project. US research shows that patent trolls cost defendant firms $29 billion per year in direct out-of-pocket costs; in aggregate, patent litigation destroys over $60 billion in firm wealth each year. In 2005 the European Parliament overwhelmingly rejected the software patents directive proposal.

Junge Tüftler: Internet Play for Safer Internet Day

On occasion of the  Safer Internet Day, we perform an event where they coach children how the internet works while playing it. For detailed information and registration please visit the following site. This event is organized and performed by Junge Tüftler in cooperation with fragFINN.de, the FFII and the Mozilla Foundation. The participation is free of charge but we ask for a binding registration.

EU-Vietnam ISDS not conform European Parliament resolution

The European Commission today published the negotiated text of the EU – Vietnam FTA. The investment and investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS) chapter is not conform the European Parliament 8 July 2015 resolution. ISDS gives foreign investors the right to challenge state decisions outside local courts. The draft FTA does not meet the conditions the European Parliament formulated in its resolution, paragraph 2 (d) (xv); it

– does not provide for independent professional judges as the proposal lacks various institutional safeguards for independence, such as fixed salary and prohibition of outside remuneration; [1]
– does not ensure that foreign investors will not benefit from greater rights than domestic investors; [2]
– is not subject to democratic principles and scrutiny, as the Parliament will not be able to change the rules later on; [3]
– undermines the jurisdiction of courts of the EU and of the Member States, as foreign investors can by-pass them;
– does not ensure that private interests cannot undermine public policy objectives. [4]

In a crucial aspect the proposal is worse than the current practice of the member states’ stand-alone investment treaties from which it is possible to withdraw: we can not expect the EU to withdraw from trade agreements.

Junge Tüftler Office Warming Party @ FFII Berlin

Junge Tüftler is a society that coaches children digital literacy by using a constructionist approach. To extend our work we are happy about the possibility to share the FFII office space so that we will be able to offer more courses and events for kids in future. We wanna celebrate this with you and all our mentors. So please feel free to join our office warming party on thusday,  28.01.2016. For more information and reservation please click here.