(Embassy – Anca Gurzu)
Even as Canadian and European Union negotiators sit down this week for the sixth round of free trade talks, a series of sensitive issues – both political and technical – are causing delays.
A Canadian request for inclusion of a dispute settlement mechanism similar to NAFTA’s controversial Chapter 11 is stalling part of the talks, as the European Commission must obtain an extended negotiating mandate from member states.
Meanwhile, there are fresh accusations that Ontario and Quebec are not ready to open their doors to foreign bidders even as Canada and the EU grapple with how to liberalize services.
A European Commission document dated Dec. 12 states that negotiators “made it clear that [investment protection] is an important negotiating objective for Canada,” and asks the European Council to allow it to hold discussions on this topic, including an investor-to-state dispute settlement mechanism.
This is a controversial provision, also included in the North American Free Trade Agreement, that allows corporations to seek compensation from states if government policies hurt their business interests. It has long served as a lightning rod for critics of NAFTA. Read more here.