Budapest, October 12 (MTI) – The green opposition LMP has demanded that Hungary take action to prevent the ratification of the Comprehensive Trade and Economic Agreement (CETA) between the European Union and Canada.
Andras Schiffer, the party’s co-chair and group leader, also called on the Hungarian prime minister on Monday “to genuinely represent” the country’s national interests at talks between Brussels and the United States on the prospective Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
Speaking at a press conference in Eger, in northern Hungary, he urged Viktor Orban to find allies in eastern and southern Europe in efforts to lobby Brussels to suspend talks on these agreements as soon as possible.
The Hungarian prime minister should build “an alliance” for this cause, similar to the one he managed to bring together in central Europe on the migration crisis, Schiffer said.
“Pending ratification by the individual countries, the CETA is the anteroom to the TTIP,” Schiffer said, adding that “let’s have no illusions … anything included in CETA will ultimately be part of the TTIP as well.”
A provision in CETA allows multinational companies the possibility to “punish” national governments by launching a lawsuit in an “offshore international tribunal,” Schiffer said, adding that by ratifying that pact, Hungary would “bid farewell” to the country’s GMO-free status, which is encoded in the country’s basic law.
LMP demands that the Hungarian prime minister state clearly the government’s position on the CETA and Hungary’s veto to that pact, Schiffer said.
The next round of TTIP talks in Brussels will focus on the auto industry, he noted, adding that “it is no accident that the VW scandal emerged just before this.” The scandal goes to show that such cases can seriously harm vulnerable economies, such as Hungary’s, which depend on manufacturing, Schiffer added.
There is a “TTIP coalition” in Hungary composed of the opposition Socialists and their “satellite parties”, as well as the ruling Fidesz party, and they applaud free trade pact because the auto industry accounts for a major part of Hungarian industrial output and GDP, he said.
Schiffer called it “outrageous” that the talks are being held in complete secrecy.
“The lobbyists of a couple of multinationals are clutching the hands of the leaders of the EU and the United States while they attempt to conceal everything from the public,” he said.
Schiffer noted that petitions signed by 3 million EU citizens, demanding immediate termination of the TTIP talks, were submitted to Brussels last week and a demonstration by 250,000 against the deal was held in Berlin on Saturday.