In a hearing requested by Chile Mejor sin TLC, the Director of Bilateral Relations of the Sub-Secretariat of International Economic Relations, Sebastián Gómez, broke the official silence and announced on the afternoon of 13th March that President Boric will send the message on the Chile-EU Free Trade Agreement to Congress in April. The meeting was also attended by Cristián Toloza Castillo, who is in charge of Europe, Africa, and the Middle East in the same Undersecretariat.

For the first time, and only thanks to the insistence of Chile Mejor sin TLC, it was possible to gain access to the government’s plans on a matter that will have important consequences for Chile due to the content of the contract. The transfer of lithium and Chile’s role as a supplier of inputs for Europe’s energy transition, the opening up of public procurement to European companies, the impact on the environment and indigenous peoples, among many other sensitive issues, are only now being brought to the attention of the public and parliament, which is currently unaware of the contents of the treaty.

It is not yet known whether it will begin in the Senate or the Chamber of Deputies. The entire treaty will be included in the message and the vote will be on the two components of the treaty, the so-called “Interim Agreement” and the “Advanced Framework Agreement”, which includes the dispute settlement procedures very similar to the system included in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)11.

The procedure followed in the European Union was different, as these texts were voted on separately by the European Parliament. Both have been approved by the European Parliament, although the Advanced Framework Agreement still needs to be voted on by the parliaments of the 27 countries that make up the EU. The EU also has to wait for Chile to complete its legal procedures for ratifying or rejecting a free trade agreement in Congress.

The hearing was attended by Lucía Sepúlveda, coordinator of Chile Mejor sin TLC, along with other members of the organization, Esteban Silva and Esteban Maturana. Esteban Silva is also the coordinator of the Plataforma América Latina Mejor sin TLC, of which Chile Mejor sin TLC is a founding member.

Today’s meeting took place after the abrupt postponement of the hearing, originally scheduled by the government for 28 January and suspended on the afternoon of 27 January, following a mobilization by our organization in front of the Chilean Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Waiting for answers on cooperation in military operations

Lucía Sepúlveda points out: “We criticized the lack of transparency and secrecy that has surrounded this whole process and our rejection of these practices. We have yet to receive answers from the government on the implications of the content of the chapter on political cooperation, which refers to so-called ‘crisis management’, a subject that for the first time has been included in a treaty with a foreign power. For us, this is an extremely risky compromise at a time when the European Union, through Ursula von der Leyen, is repeatedly saying that it is preparing for war and continues to play the role of accomplice to Israel’s genocide against the Palestinian people by providing arms and international political support. It is unacceptable that we are faced with a treaty that commits Chile to possible military operations of the European Union with third countries, a matter that is not sufficiently clarified in this chapter and that calls into question the neutrality of our country. For the same reason, it will be the subject of questions related to the forced alignment with NATO that they are promoting and its geopolitical consequences”.

The officials were given a copy of the book ‘Secretos del Tratado de Libre Comercio Chile-Unión Europea’ by the analyst Patricio Véjar, published in January this year, and explained that it was only on 29 February, when the European Parliament voted on the treaty, that the Sub direction for International Economic Relations published a .pdf on its website with the chapters in Spanish.

Chile Mejor sin TLC is now resuming its campaign to widely disseminate the neo-colonial character of this new treaty, promoted by the government of President Boric, a former member of Chile Mejor sin TPP, and to achieve, through social pressure, that at least the Mining and Energy, Environment, Human Rights, Economy, Health and Defense, and Foreign Affairs Committees discuss and vote on the treaty after hearing the opinion of social organizations.