Place: Kiel, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany
The alliance “Volksinitiative Schleswig-Holstein stoppt CETA” („Citizens’ initiative of the people of Schleswig-Holstein to stop CETA”) submitted 25,612 signatures to the state parliament in Kiel today, easily surpassing the legally required 20,000. Speakers of the alliance called on the parliament to oblige state government to reject CETA in the Federal Council (Bundesrat, the legislative body representing Germany’s 16 federal states). The signatures were presented to the state parliament’s vice president Marlies Fritzen.
“Schleswig-Holstein’s response to CETA in the Federal Council must be addressed in the upcoming negotiations to form a government coalition following the 7 May state elections”, says Claudine Nierth, chairwoman of “Mehr Demokratie” (More Democracy) and spokesperson for the citizens‘ initiative. “The signatories to this initiative are expecting the new coalition to very clearly reject CETA in the Federal Council – otherwise we will work toward the second and third step, which is to collect signatures for a referendum.”
“Schleswig-Holstein needs no special privileges for foreign investors, such as provided by CETA”, says Andreas Meyer of Attac, spokesperson for the alliance. “The majority of people wish for a trade policy in which workplace safety is no longer marginalised. Treaties such as CETA, which regard public services as obstacles to free competition, are feeding even further privatisation, and lead to a sell-out of public property.”
“CETA is a threat to environment and consumer protection standards, and it bears risks for Schleswig-Holstein’s ecologic future”, says Claudia Bielfeldt, regional chairwoman of BUND Schleswig-Holstein (BUND is the “German Federation for the Environment and Nature Conservation”), who is also spokesperson for the citizens’ initiative. “CETA seriously limits future generations’ agency for environmental protection. From an ecological point of view, to endorse CETA would be fatal.”
Campaign director Katharina Nocun concludes: “CETA is TTIP through the back door. The consequences of corporations’ exclusive rights to costly legal action will be paid for with precious tax payers’ money. So it is right and vital for the people of Schleswig-Holstein to stand up now and to intervene.”
Maritta Strasser of the civil movement Campact says: “We want to strengthen the position of Schleswig-Holstein’s Green party in the upcoming coalition talks. Whether they (and the liberal party, FDP) will form a government with the conservative CDU or the social-democratic SPD, the new state government must not endorse CETA in the Federal Council.”
According to state law, the state parliament of Schleswig-Holstein must respond to any citizens‘ initiative achieving the quorum. After verification of the signatures, the initiative must be passed or rejected, in the latter case the petitioners can seek to make it the subject of a referendum.
CETA, the free-trade agreement between Canada and the European Union, must be ratified by all EU Member States’ parliaments before it can enter into force. In Germany this requires endorsement by both the directly elected parliament (Bundestag) and the Federal Council (Bundesrat) representing the 16 federal states.
Katharina Nocun, Campaign director “Volksinitiative Schleswig-Holstein stoppt CETA”
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