Poland is threatening to block a part of the EU’s trade deal with Canada because of its concerns over a planned mechanism for resolving disputes between governments and multinational companies.
Known as CETA, the EU’s pact with Canada contains a different court system in which a panel of judges would be appointed to hear cases. The panel will consist of five EU judges, five Canadian judges, and five judges from third countries — a system that Brussels has said would provide improved transparency and democratic oversight.
As reported by The Financial Times, Warsaw is worried that this could lead to cases involving Poland being heard without a Polish judge. It is therefore pushing for the panel to be expanded to include a judge from each of the EU’s current 28 nations.
Failing that, it wants clarity on how the EU judges on the panel will be assigned to cases, to ensure that the procedure is fair and does not favour particular countries.
“Our trade partners would always enjoy a right to nominate their judges, while a particular [EU] member state would not have such a guarantee,” the committee that advises the Polish government on its foreign investment policy warned the EU last month in a letter seen by the FT.
“Such a fundamental inequality in the system should not be accepted, for legal, political and financial reasons,” the committee said in the letter, sent to Cecilia Malmström, the EU trade commissioner.
The advisory committee warned that, if Poland’s requests are “not properly addressed,” it “will not be in a position” to recommend that the government “accept EU and member states trade and investment agreements.”
The bulk of the CETA agreement is set to provisionally apply from September 21 — a date which will be unaffected by the latest Polish move because the trade deal has already been approved by the European Parliament and the European Council — the EU body that represents national governments.