Last summer we produced a report entitled “Canada’s dirty lobby diary”. The report revealed the extent of Canada’s lobbying – one of the most intense ever witnessed in Brussels.
One of the issues the Canadians were threatening the EU with was over trade.
The report noted: “The Canadian campaign is using old fashioned strong-arm tactics, with them threatening the EU over trade. Although the Canadians publicly deny any link between the EU-Canada trade negotiations and the debate on the FQD, behind the scenes they are threatening with retaliation at these trade talks.”
Since the report was published we have kept digging, knowing that the threats and dirty tactics would be continuing in the run up to Thursday, when the European Parliament will vote on whether to adopt the Directive.”
Two of the new documents we uncovered were quoted by the Guardian yesterday, in an article entitled “Canada threatens trade war with EU over tar sands”, a story which has been widely picked up in the Canadian press.
The article quoted a letter from Joe Oliver, the Canadian Minister of Natural Resources, who wrote to the European commissioner for energy, Günther Oettinger and Baroness Catherine Ashton, Vice-President of the Commission, amongst others, stating on the 19 October: “If unjustified, discriminatory measures to implement the fuel quality directive are put in place, Canada will not hesitate to defend its interests,” he huffed and puffed.
This type of threat from the Canadians has become almost routine. The following month, David Plunkett, the Canadian Ambassador to the EU, wrote to the Commissioner for Climate Action, Connie Hedegaard, on the 8th December 2011, again threatening the EU with the WTO.
“If the final measures single out oil sands crude in a discriminatory, arbitrary or unscientific way, or are otherwise inconsistent with the EU’s international trade obligations, I want to state that Canada will explore every avenue at its disposal to defend its interests, including at the World Trade Organisation,” he wrote.
The WTO threat was then discussed the following day at a meeting between Mark Vanheukelen, the Head of Transatlantic Relations at the Commission and David Plunkett. At the meeting Vanheukelen bluntly told the Canadians that “the Commission window as regards the FQD was no closed”.
So the Commission has not given into Canadian pressure, but will the European Parliament? We will find out on Thursday.
MEPs who are voting on the issue should do well to read a letter from eight Nobel peace prize winners who last week wrote a letter to the EU.
“Tar sand development is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada, and threatens the health of the planet,” wrote the Nobel Peace Prize laureates, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa and Iranian human rights activist Shirin Ebadi, said the letter. “As the tar sands have contributed to rising emissions, Canada recently stepped away from the Kyoto Protocol. Europe must not follow in Canada’s footsteps.”