Written answers

Thursday, 3 June 2021

Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment

Trade Agreements

Photo of Jennifer WhitmoreJennifer Whitmore (Wicklow, Social Democrats)
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13. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he has conducted a risk analysis on the implications that the investor court system as part of CETA will have on current and future environmental legislation in Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13250/21]

Photo of Robert TroyRobert Troy (Longford-Westmeath, Fianna Fail)
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Chapter 24 of CETA dealing with “Trade and the Environment” commits both the EU and Canada to ensure that their laws and policies provide and encourage high levels of environmental protections.  It further commits both Parties to strive to continue to improve such laws and policies.  These environmental provisions are enforceable through the Agreement, including review by an independent panel of experts and a high degree of transparency and monitoring.  CETA also includes a commitment on the part of all governments to ensure that there is no relaxation of environmental law in efforts to promote trade or attract investment.

CETA also includes commitments towards the sustainable management of forests, fisheries and aquaculture.  It reinforces the Parties' commitments to multilateral environmental agreements to which it is a party, including the Paris Agreement, which is an important shared responsibility for the European Union and its Member States, as well as Canada.

Importantly, in CETA both sides also agree that more trade and investment should not be at the expense of environmental protection and labour rights.  On the contrary, the EU and Canada are committed to ensuring that CETA helps ensure that economic growth, social development, and environmental protection go hand in hand.

Furthermore, CETA reaffirms the EU and Canada’s right to regulate to achieve legitimate policy objectives, including the environment, so Ireland’s right to regulate in sensitive areas in a non-discriminatory, WTO-compliant way is protected. 

In relation to the Investor Court System – or ICS – within CETA, the full terms of the Agreement ensure the government’s “right to regulate”, and they are specifically directed at so-called “regulatory chill” while also ensuring that investors can raise legitimate claims under CETA’s Investor Court System. 

Historically, most investment claims do not challenge a government’s ability to legislate or regulate, rather they are administrative in character, challenging discriminatory treatment of an individual investor in the context of a particular license, permit, or in cases of expropriation. 

CETA does not restrict either the EU or Canada from passing new laws in areas of public interest such as the environment, and health and safety, among others.  Nor does CETA affect the Government’s scope for developing new laws in response to the needs and priorities of Irish citizens.  Therefore, I see no need for the risk assessment suggested by the Deputy.

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