Education International
Education International

Slovenia: education union urges parliament not to sign EU free trade agreement with Canada

published 11 September 2016 updated 13 September 2016

With the possible signing of the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement looming, the Education, Science, and Culture Trade Union of Slovenia has warned the national parliamentarians of the negative impact of this agreement.

On 6 September, the Education, Science and Culture Trade Union of Slovenia (ESTUS), along with other trade unions, non-government organisations (NGOs), and consumer associations held a press conference where they presented their warning letter addressed to members of the national Parliament. The parliament will have the final say and vote on the official position of Republic of Slovenia regarding the conclusion of the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement(CETA).

Legislative powers affected

“This agreement may affect the legislative powers and rights of national parliaments by establishing various committees and the envisioned regulatory and bilateral dialogues,” emphasised the ESTUS General Secretary and European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE) Vice-President, Branimir Strukelj.

The letter also warns of possible consequences of the negative listing approach in the liberalisation of services, affecting  the organisation and provision of public services, including education.

“We expressed our strong support for the formal position of the government and the parliament that CETA should not contain the proposed Investment Court System (ICS), and called on MPs to recommend to the government to immediately ask the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for an opinion on the legality of ICS,” Strukelj went on to stress.

Next steps

As the following days and weeks will be crucial when it comes to the signing of the CETA agreement, ESTUS will continue its lobbying activities. A protest rally is scheduled to take place on 15 September in the capital Ljubljana.

On 2 September, the Economic and Social Council, the highest-level body representing the social partners in Slovenia, discussed the upcoming national and EU procedures regarding the signature of CETA.

It adopted two conclusions demanding that: a decision on signing the CETA agreement should not be made until the European Court of Justice releases its opinion in case 2/15 regarding the nature of the EU-Singapore agreement; and the Government of the Republic of Slovenia should immediately request from the ECJ a separate opinion regarding the proposed ICS and its coherence with the EU treaties.

The next step in the CETA ratification is the informal council meeting of trade ministers to be held from 22-23 September in Bratislava, Slovakia, and where the signature of CETA will be discussed and possibly decided.

Education International (EI) and its affiliates in the concerned countries will continue to lobby governments and ask that CETA be stopped and reiterate that public services such as education should be excluded from global trade agreements.