European Water Movement says No to JEFTA!

The EU-Japan Free Trade Agreement (JEFTA) negotiations were launched on 25 March 2013 and were concluded in July 2017. JEFTA is going to be ratified by Jean-Claude Juncker, Donald Tusk and Shinzō Abe Japanese Prime Minister on July 11th 2018 in Brussels.

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 (the previous Agreement signed and that has served as a model for JEFTA according the European Commission).

It would cover a quarter of the world’s GDP. Although the investment chapter was taken off there has been hardly any debate in European society and the European Parliament has had very few debates. It will be have to be voted after the summer if it is finally signed on 11th. 

JEFTA, despite the fact of its impact, does not take into account the demands of the European Water movement and the broader European civil society. We find this an scandalous response of the European Commission in contradiction with its previous replies.

Unlike in the CETA Agreement, there is not an article on « rights and obligations relating to water » in the JEFTA Agreement. This article, although insufficiently, excludes water «in its natural state » from the market. This exclusion does not exist in JEFTA.

Like in the CETA Agreement, that we have opposed, there is a reservation for public water supply in the EU providing protection from liberalisation obligations. Yet, the Agreement imposes progressive and mutual (reciprocal) liberalisation, we find this extremely worrying. As Japan grants market access to water supply in Japan there is a significant increase in pressure for further liberalization of water supply in the EU as well. Furthermore the Agreement includes the establishment of a number of Committees which could be beyond parlamentary control in certain cases. Further scrutiny appears to be necessary to find out if possibilities for liberalisation of water supply without the due parliamentary control result. In CETA the interpretative clause introduced by Slovenia gave us some coverage of this issue, there isn't such a clause in JEFTA due to the secretive nature of the negotiations.

Moreover, there is no horizontal exclusion for public utilities and environmental services in fully included, so therefore the water cycle is in danger of liberalisation. On top of that, unlike CETA, the German reservation for waste water services has been left out resulting in a market access obligation for waste water services in Germany as a consequence. We regard this as liberalisation through a trade agreement of the water cycle.

Last but not least, the « precautionary principle » is not mentioned. Therefore this essential fundament of EU consumer and environmental protection is continued to be undermined, especially regarding international issues.

For the above mentioned and the fast-track procedure taken by the European Commission we call on all European Union governments and all Members of the European Parliament to vote against JEFTA in the upcoming vote. The future of our water is a stake.

For more information: David Sánchez - hello (at) , +32485842604

The European Water Movement is an open, inclusive and pluralistic network whose goal is to reinforce the recognition of water as a commons and as a fundamental universal right. It has members in 10 European Countries.