The EU-Japan Free Trade Agreement (JEFTA) negotiations were launched in March 2013. Between 10 and 13 December the plenary of the EU Parliament is planned to vote on the 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 - the party for the previous agreement, CETA, that has served as a model for JEFTA according to the European Commission.
While CETA had included a number of shortcomings for water resources as well as for public water and wastewater management, the provisions of JEFTA even fall short of CETA. Additionally a considerable amount of power will be transferred from the EU Parliament to highly intransparent committees.
Unlike in the CETA Agreement (Art. 1.9), there is no article on "rights and obligations relating to water" in the JEFTA Agreement. This article, although insufficiently, excludes water "in its natural state" from becoming a market commodity and, although also insufficiently, preserves the rights of public authorities to decide independently how to allocate water resources.
Because of CETA's shortcomings on water some member states had insisted on including clarifications on water in the - legally not binding - CETA Joint Interpretative Instrument (No. 11, p. 8). Especially the declaration of Slovenia to the Council minutes highlights CETA's deficiencies and stresses the right of Slovenia to limit or cancel the awarded water rights (No. 23 p. 18). All this is missing in the JEFTA agreement.
We remind you that water is essential for life. In times of water shortages becoming a widespread phenomenon also in the EU we have to regard anyone approving JEFTA as acting highly irresponsibly.
Moreover, JEFTA also falls short of excluding sectorally wastewater services from market access obligations making only this significant service subject to a horizontal clause (public utilities clause) which has not been designed for the use of negative lists for services. A number of experts has pointed out to the high legal incertainty of this clause as well as a high number of undefined terms in the agreement in general. Now, in JEFTA, this legal uncertainty reaches an alarming extent as the overarching JEFTA-internal committee, the Joint Committee, is allowed to adopt legal interpretations of provisions of the agreement (Art. 22.1 para 5, p. 548). This allows an independent legal development of JEFTA - even against the will of the European Parliament (Art. 218 para. 9 TFEU) ! This issue is not only related to water but to any topic which is covered by JEFTA.
It must be obvious and clear to any member of Parliament that any consent to JEFTA would equal handing over a considerable amount of entrusted power from the European Parliament to a highly intransparent JEFTA committee! Your mandate does not include allowing such a transfer!
Also, the JEFTA agreement includes a negative list for services. During CETA negotiations, European Parliament had made clear that it would only once as a mere exception accept a negative list in a trade agreement, see No. 5, resolution P7_TA(2011)0257 of 8 June 2011. JEFTA would be the first agreement including again a new negative list. If the Parliament wants to be taken seriously, it has to stick to its own resolutions and reject the use of a negative list in JEFTA.
Regarding all this, we have to firmly call on all Members of the European Parliament to vote against JEFTA in the upcoming plenary. The future of our water as well of our parliamentary democracy is a stake.
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 11 European Countries.
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