JEFTA – Offener Brief an die EU-Parlamentarier_innen

Seattle to Brussels Network

European letter on the EU-Japan FTA (JEFTA) to members of national parliaments

May 22, 2018

To Honorable Members of Parliament,

We, the undersigned civil society organisations, hereby express our deep concern about the planned fast-tracking of the ratification of the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement.

JEFTA is the biggest trade agreement ever concluded by the European Union, with a country which GDP is three times higher than the one of Canada. It would cover a quarter of the world’s GDP.

Like the controversial CETA – the EU Canada trade agreement – JEFTA, once ratified, would be politically almost impossible to terminate and extremely hard to amend. There will be no fixing problems after ratification.

JEFTA contains rules severely limiting policy space in the EU and in its member states. As the agreement covers all levels of decision-making, it would become a straightjacket for the EU, for member states, and even for regional and local governments.

Ensuring proper scrutiny of JEFTA’s content before its signature is therefore of prime importance. Yet, after negotiating the agreement in almost total secrecy for over 5 years, the EU and member states might soon decide to fast-track its ratification.

JEFTA has been presented to the Council of the EU in April 2018 as an “EU only” agreement. National parliaments will be denied a vote on a treaty which will constrain their powers. Such minimal scrutiny is a new blow to the proper democratic debate on the type of trade policy European citizens need.

We therefore call on representatives of the national electorate to ensure sufficient time for a careful review of the trade agreement. A fast-track procedure with a vote possibly already on June 26, 2018, would make a careful review impossible.

We wish to highlight some of our fundamental concerns about the agreement in its current form:

  • The EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement uses a negative list approach for services. This method severely limits governments’ ability to create, expand, and regulate public services and reverse failed liberalisations or privatisations, and makes it extremely hard to protect high-quality services such as water, transport, education, social and health care, as well as attempts to provide public services in line with public interest goals.
  • The financial services chapter of the agreement (Articles 8.58 to 8.67) reduces the instruments available to combat financial speculation and inflation, obstructs banking structure reform and would thus, once implemented, constitute a threat to financial stability and an obstacle to initiatives to stabilise the current financial system.
  • JEFTA would further constrain the ability of the EU and member states to control Japanese food and feed imports (Artile 6.7, especially 6.7.4), even though there are already documented cases of imports of illegal GMO feed from Japan. Worldwide, Japan is the country with most GM crops approved both for food and feed
  • JEFTA creates ten dialogues (Article 22.3) between regulators of the EU and Japan on matters which touch upon national competences: Government Procurement, Agriculture, Food Safety, Services, Investment, Electronic Commerce, etc. There is no guarantee in the text that national parliaments will be involved. It is even possible for this cooperation to open in new areas, without national parliament’s approval.
  • There is no reference to the precautionary principle in the Chapter on SPS measures or in the TBT chapter.
  • JEFTA’s chapter 8 on trade in services, investment liberalisation and electronic commerce contains implicit and explicit cross-border data flow commitments (Sections C and E respectively) which would constrain the ability of governments to regulate data flows, and may undermine the protection of the fundamental right to the protection of personal data. The complete exclusion of this fundamental right from the agreement is also not ensured.
  • The trade agreement’s intellectual property rights chapter would limit possibilities for future copyright and patent reform.
  • The deal will make it almost impossible for European regulators and courts to require Japanese banks or car-makers to submit their software and IT equipments for government audits to check conformity with domestic laws on deceptive practices and environmental requirements.
  • The trade and sustainable development chapter of JEFTA (Chapter 16) is even weaker than the one in CETA. Moreover Japan has not ratified two of the eight core ILO conventions and the provisions on trade in illegal timber are weak and could eventually weaken the EU’s own attempts to tackle the issue.
  • Behind closed doors, the EU and Japan are still negotiating parallel tribunals for foreign investors. Those tribunals have already been used by Japanese investors against the Spanish state. Those cases are ongoing, costing millions to Spanish tax payers. This broken system must not be expanded in JEFTA.

JEFTA contains many more provisions likely to harm people and the environment. The biggest trade agreement of the EU requires much more scrutiny than it is currently receiving.

We need a paradigm shift toward a transparent and inclusive trade policy founded on the needs of people and our planet. JEFTA is not a progressive trade deal. On the contrary: ratifying JEFTA, especially without proper scrutiny, will lead us further away from a much needed change.

Signatories :

Greenpeace, International

European Environmental Bureau, Europe

European Water Movement, Europe

European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE), Europe

European Public Services Union (EPSU), Europe

Friends of the Earth Europe, Europe

TROCA- Plataforma por um Comércio Internacional Justo (national platform), Portugal

Anders Handeln (national platform), Austria

Netzwerk Gerechter Welthandel (national platform), Germany

Stop CETA Alliance Ireland (national platform), Ireland

Attac Austria, Austria

ÖBV-Via Campesina Austria, Austria

11.11.11, Belgium

Food & Water Europe, Belgium

Centrale Nationale des Employés (CNE), Belgium

Corporate Europe Observatory, Belgium

“Europe and we”, Bulgaria

Afrika Kontakt, Denmark

NOAH Friends of the Earth Denmark, Denmark

Occupy Denmark, Denmark

Association CRI-AC !, France

ATTAC France, France

Confederation paysanne, France

foodwatch France, France

Les Amis de la Terre, France

Berliner Wassertisch, Germany

FDCL, Germany

foodwatch Germany, Germany

Kölner Bündnis für gerechten Welthandel, Germany

IATP Europe, Germany

NaturFreunde Deutschlands e.V., Germany

Slow Food Deutschland e. V., Germany

PowerShift e.V., Germany

An Claíomh Glas, Ireland

CONNECT Trade Union, Ireland

Comhlámh, Ireland

FÍS NUA, Ireland

Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association Ireland, Ireland

Keep Ireland Fracking Free, Ireland

Environmental Pillar, Ireland

Fairwatch, Italy

Mouvement Ecologique, Luxembourg

Both ENDS, Netherlands

foodwatch Netherlands, Netherlands

Platform ABC, Netherlands

Transnational Institute, Netherlands

CIDAC, Portugal

Corporations-ZeroTtolerance, Portugal

GAIA-Grupo de Accao e Intervencao Ambiental, Portugal

GEOTA, Portugal

Palombar – Associação de Conservação da Natureza e do Património Rural, Portugal

Plataforma Alagrve livre de Petróleo, Portugal

Sindicato dos Professores da Grande Lisboa, Portugal

SOS Racismo, Portugal


ZERO – Association for the Sustainability of the Earth System, Portugal

Umanotera, Slovenia

ATTAC Spain, Spain

Coordinadora Ecologista de Asturias, Spain

Equo, Spain

Confederación Intersindical, Spain

Ecologistas en Acción, Spain

Plataforma Auditoría Ciudadana Deuda Sevilla , Spain

Podem Sanitat Catalunya , Spain


Intersindical Valenciana, Spain



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