After the European Union has failed to implement TTIP and the European Parliament has barely accepted the controversial CEFTA against a backdrop of numerous protests, Brussels is letting in another Trojan Horse through the back door and is doing it secretly.
Since the TTIP has failed, the EU just had to think up a new monstrosity: JEFTA, an agreement on free trade with Japan that is about to be finalized and that hardly anybody has heard about despite the four-year negotiations. On July 6 the EU Commission and Japan decided to complete the JEFTA agreement. It is outrageous that the EU citizens have scarcely been informed about it. The same was true of TTIP and CEFTA: people only learnt about it when huge protests were staged. So also now the most important documents concerning JEFTA have only been made known to us through a leak.1)
Up to now, trade between Japan and the EU is burdened with customs duties that amount to one billion euros annually. Thanks to the prospective abolition of customs duties, the Toyotas and Hondas should become cheaper in Europe whereas the Japanese might be able to eventually afford French cheese and champagne. Sounds good, or does it? We describe below in brief how dangerous the agreement is:
1. The otherwise pro-EU TV program Euroblick (Euroview) reported that JEFTA would mean exports worth some 60 billion euros and the attendant 600,000 jobs. A windfall for Japanese enterprises.2)
2. The agreement will allow Japanese investors to sue national governments in special courts of law if the local regulations, laws or decisions endanger their profits. The mentioned special courts would be subjected neither to national nor European courts. Their apparent independence means their factual dependence on secret lawyers who would be selected and controlled by the enterprises.
3. The agreement makes no mention whatsoever of penalties for violating labour law like e.g. paying too low earnings. The question arises, which working conditions will Japanese companies in Europe apply if they can operate outside either national or European law?3)
4. Japan is the world’s largest importer of wood. Greenpeace asserts that the country is also the largest importer of illegal wood (especially from the countries of south-east Asia) because Japan has defective law in this respect.4) Romania is among the countries that may be most negatively affected by JEFTA: at present the country’s last primeval forests are being felled down, which is prohibited in other European countries.5) The EU is incapable of preventing Romania from pursuing this practice, so JAFTA will be an opportunity for Japan to chop down European forests.
5. Japan does not care all that much about the protection of sea life, and the Japanese catch huge numbers of whales, allegedly for scientific purposes.6) It is highly likely that some of that meat finds its way onto European tables, which means that the EU encourages policies aimed against environment protection.
6. JEFTA does away with the so-called non-tariffed trade barriers, which means the abolition of health and safety measures. By way of example: according to Ska Keller vom Bündnis 90/Grünen,7) the current strong EU legal prohibition of importing GMO or hormone-treated meat could be lifted by the aforementioned special courts of law.
By adopting JEFTA the EU will send to the United States a signal that Europe is not going to follow President Trump’s protectionist policies. Yet, trade ought not to be pursed for the sake of trade, it ought to be a means to achieving a goal which is the protection of jobs and the environment.
For further information on the free trade agreement go to Berliner Wassertisch.
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|1.||↑||For a selection of the most interesting leaks see: https://trade-leaks.org/.|
|2.||↑||ARD, Euroblick, 2017-08-04, 23Uhr.|
|3.||↑||Greenpeace Media briefing, 2017-06-24, Page 3.|
|4.||↑||Ibid, Page 1.|
|5.||↑||Ruf der Kettensäge, Jan Willmroth, Süddeutsche Zeitung, 2017-06-23.|
|6.||↑||Japan will mehr Wale fangen, Spiegel, 2016-11-14.|
|7.||↑||Ska Keller, BRHD24, Euroblick, 2017-08-04, 23 Uhr.|