A very important answer of the EU Commission on CETA and mining companies claims

13/01/2015 3998 views

Parliamentary questions (European Parliament, Commission)

9 October 2014, E-007767-14

Question for written answer to the Commission, Rule 130

Lidia Senra Rodríguez (GUE/NGL). Galician MEP

Subject:  CETA agreement and Edgewater in Galicia


The CETA lays down arrangements entitling multinationals to make claims against governments when they consider that government decisions harm their business.

In Galicia, Edgewater, a Canadian company, is seeking authorisation from the Galician Government for a gold mining exploration project that would damage farmland and woodlands. The Edgewater project would involve the use of cyanide and consequently endanger human health, aquatic fauna, and water quality.

The Galician Government announced several months ago that the gold project had been cancelled. However, according to recent press reports, Edgewater is planning to sue the Government for damages unless the cancelled project is reinstated or the company receives financial compensation.

  1. Can it really be the case that, because of the CETA, the Galician people will be obliged to pay compensation to Edgewater in order to protect the soil, the environment, and their health?
  2. Does the Commission not believe that the EU should endeavour to maintain water quality and, to that end, prevent any situation in which people would be punished because they wished to protect it?
  3. Can it really be the case that Edgewater’s profits deserve greater public protection than the Galician people’s right to live a healthy life?


Parliamentary questions (European Parliament, Commission)

4 December 2014, E-007767/2014

Answer given by Ms Malmström on behalf of the Commission


No Canadian company is at the moment able to rely on the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Canada to challenge any decision concerning its investment, including bringing claims for compensation, as this agreement is not in force. CETA will only enter into force once the respective approval procedures are completed by Canada and by the EU. In case of the EU, they require the approval of the Council and the consent of the European Parliament.

In any event, Free Trade Agreements, including CETA, do not change EU Member States’ right to pursue their legitimate public policy objectives including setting standards for protecting the environment. CETA makes clear that the EU and Canada preserve their right to regulate and to achieve legitimate policy objectives, such as public health, safety, environment, public morals and the promotion and protection of cultural diversity. This means that an investor cannot be given compensation just because he has lost profits or suffered economic loss or costs.