Is CETA Keeping up with the Promise? Interpreting Certain Provisions Relating to Biotechnology
Questions of International Law, Zoom-Out 41, Special Issue Introduced by Jan Klabbers, Hammer and Nail. Megaregionals, CETA and the Law of Treaties, p. 35-58, July 2017
24 Pages Posted: 4 Oct 2017 Last revised: 7 Oct 2017
Date Written: October 3, 2017
The picture of a Trojan horse, wrapped in banners reading STOP CETA, best portrays the fears underpinning the public opposition to the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with Canada (CETA). The main suspicion is that the technical jargon of the economic transatlantic deal, hailed as beneficial for EU consumers, could insidiously be used to attack public policy, health, safety, and environment regulation. Just like the horse used by the Greeks to destroy the city of Troy, CETA could be used to unleash a new wave of neoliberal policies that would erode environmental and social regulation. Next to the widely publicized issues related to the adoption of an Investment Court (which is perceived as a risk to democracy), other parts of CETA have been stigmatized for being perilous. CETA provisions explicitly relating to the field of biotechnology have generated these concerns. Critics have read into these provisions an attempt to upset the precautionary European regulatory choices in this field, which - it is worth recalling - has always been a highly divisive issue in transatlantic relations.
This article aims at clarifying the implications of CETA for the regulation of biotechnology, and more particularly sheds light on the question of whether the concerns that CETA will lead to a lowering of the European standards are justified. The international rules on treaty interpretation are used as the main analytical lenses to critically analyse and decipher the CETA text and, accordingly, to answer the central research question. The legal framework for interpreting salient CETA provisions in the field of biotechnology will be presented and applied so as to clarify how certain provisions should be interpreted. Critics may be surprised of the progressive potential of the rules on treaty interpretation.
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