Activists in the Netherlands against the proposed free trade deal between the European Union and Canada have accumulated nearly two-thirds of the signatures required to set in motion a referendum on the treaty.
If the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) falls through, about 9,000 tariffs on industrial goods, agricultural products, and foodstuffs would be revoked. The treaty also aims to expand competition in the services sector on both sides, especially the banking and insurance sectors.
reported that Dutch activists have gathered over the past year nearly 200,000 supporters who have signed to petition for a referendum on the CETA once the nation’s parliament ratifies it. 300,000 signatures are required to trigger an advisory vote on any bill passed by parliament.
If enough voters reject the bill, and voter turnout is above 30%, the Dutch government would require the consent of parliament to proceed with the passage of the contested bill. The government would have to either offer concessions or amendments to the bill to appease the popular vote.
Protesters from organizations such as “More Democracy” and “Pigs in Need” claimed that arrangements such as the CETA and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (a similar deal between the EU and the US) gave undue influence to closed arbitration tribunals—tribunals that could be abused by multinational companies to dictate public policy.
“TTIP and CETA are old-school trade agreements where the interests of companies are more important than the people who live in those countries,” commented Niesco Dubbelboer, who is one of the leaders behind the referendum petition.
CETA was signed on Sunday, but is still awaiting clearance from about 40 national and regional parliaments in Europe in the years to come before it can pick up steam.
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