Environmental organisations are threatening to bring about a court challenge to the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada, just as the government is preparing to put ratification of the agreement on the parliament’s agenda.
CETA has been provisionally applied since September 2017 and is expected to be fully applied once it is ratified by all EU member states. Slovenia is among the ten member states yet to ratify the agreement and media reports suggest the government will discuss ratification this week.
However, before it is ratified, the Constitutional Court must be asked about the compliance of CETA with the Constitution, Plan B for Slovenia, a network of major environmental NGOs, said on Monday.
The NGO believes the agreement is not in line with the constitutional provision stipulating that water sources serve primarily and sustainably to supply drinking water and water to households and are not marketable goods.
“CETA defines concessions for the extraction of natural resources as investments, which can be understood as marketable goods,” it said. Based on this definition and other provisions of CETA, the NGO thinks there could potentially be an arbitration dispute in the future on water resources if a concession for water extraction is granted to a Canadian company.
Environmental issues are a major concern for a large swathe of the Slovenian public, and amendments to the waters act that would have allowed more development along coastal areas were convincingly rejected in a referendum in 2021.
“The Slovenian public and civil society are very sensitive when it comes to water and its protection,” the group said, arguing that ratification of the agreement would cause an “economic, social and environmental disaster.”
Two other NGOs, Alpe Adria Green and Healthy Society, even suggested that CETA should be put to a referendum. The Slovenian Constitution forbids referendums on laws that transpose international treaties, but a potential court battle over whether such a referendum is admissible could theoretically protract the ratification procedure.