Online petition against trade pact: hunt down jefta!

Opposition to free trade seems unbroken. A petition against the German-Japanese agreement is going viral.

Grimmenstein 2016 with the collected signatures against Ceta Photo: dpa

Free trade critic Marianne Grimmenstein wants to take down the European-Japanese trade agreement Jefta with an online petition. Just a few hours after the launch of the petition "Stop Jefta & Co. in The Hague" on the online platform Change.org, the number of supporters was in the five-digit range.

The flute teacher from Ludenscheid has become known nationwide with her citizen’s complaint against the European-Canadian trade agreement Ceta. With the help of an online petition, she found tens of thousands of citizens who joined her in filing a constitutional complaint against Ceta.

However, the agreement is now in force in parts, but still needs to be ratified by the parliaments of the EU states. Whether that will actually happen is uncertain.

Belgium is currently taking legal action against Ceta before the European Court of Justice. Until the case is decided, the constitutional complaints in Karlsruhe are also on hold. Critics complain that economic pacts such as Ceta and Jefta give corporations privileges and restrict the policies of the participating states. They fear that with the help of the regulatory frameworks, companies can force the privatization of public enterprises in Germany, such as the water supply. "Social and ecological criteria play no role in these trade agreements," says Grimmenstein.

Concern about water

With her new petition, she wants to get the International Court of Justice in The Hague involved in issues of economic pacts like Ceta or Jefta. The idea is that the Court should draw up a legal opinion setting standards for trade agreements and comparing them with the UN Charter. In those parts where the agreements violate the Charter, they should be stopped.

To this end, Grimmenstein wants to use the petition to put pressure on UN aid organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) or the children’s relief organization Unicef, because they can initiate a review by the International Court of Justice in The Hague. With her idea, the music teacher invokes the U.S. international law expert Alfred de Zayas, who has been UN Special Rapporteur for the Promotion of a Democratic and Just International Order since 2012.

In addition to this more long-term idea, Grimmenstein also has a short-term goal. "My petition is also aimed at the EU Parliament," she says. That’s because the EU MEPs still have to approve Jefta. The music teacher hopes that her petition will be a contribution to persuade the parliamentarians to reject it.