Canada and EU officially sign the trade agreement that could open-up the road to TTIP

José Manuel Barroso, President of the EC, Herman van Rompuy, President of the European Council, and Stephen Harper, Canadian Prime Minister, participated in the EU/Canada Summit which was held in Ottawa. (from left to right) (EC Audiovisual Services, 26/09/2014)

José Manuel Barroso, President of the EC, Herman van Rompuy, President of the European Council, and Stephen Harper, Canadian Prime Minister, participated in the EU/Canada Summit which was held in Ottawa. (from left to right) (EC Audiovisual Services, 26/09/2014)

Last Friday the European Union and Canada officially marked the end of five years of negotiations and talks: the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the two parts was signed. The agreement was presented by the outgoing Commission President Manuel Barroso, the European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and Canada Prime Minister Stephen Harper at a joint news conference on Toronto’s Parliament Hill.

The conference closed a long negotiations process which started on May 6th 2009 at the Canada-EU Summit in Prague. The negotiations were formally concluded on August 1st 2014 when CETA was approved as the replacement of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), becoming Canada’s biggest cross-border deal. “It will not only change the game for Canadian businesses,” the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said, “it will create an entirely new game”.

The text of the deal, which is 1,600 pages long, was published on the EC’s trade website and will go through about nine months of legal examinations before being submitted to the bloc’s 28 national governments and the European Parliament for final approval. President Barroso indeed predicted the final pact would be signed next year, to make CETA begin in 2016. When fully operative, the CETA is expected to increase the two-way trade by 20 per cent, to 26 billion euros ($33 billion) a year, according to the European Commission.

The deal would put an end to 98 % of tariffs on EU-Canada goods trade at the outset, and 99 % after seven years (with NAFTA 29% of the then-existing tariffs were removed – source Financial Post). “Now we will be playing in the big leagues, Canada’s PM Harpers commented on Friday, while Barroso called the CETA “the most advanced agreement in the world today, when it comes to market integration”.

Despite the general optimism in Canada last Friday, many clouds loomed on the agreement the day before and the risk that the signing ceremony could have turned into another embarrassment for both sides was very high. Indeed it was when German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said on Thursday that Berlin would reject the landmark trade pact in its current form, that pressure got quite high. The bone of contention lies in the pact’s “Investor-State Dispute Settlement” chapter of the Text.

The disputed ISDS clause would allow multinationals and private investors to put pressure on governments into weakening their laws on labour, data protection, food standards and the environment, if they feel local laws threatened their investments. “It is completely clear that we reject these investment protection agreements”, German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel told a German parliamentary debate on Thursday.

President Barroso minimized the question, saying that “until now all the official communications we have received from Germany were absolutely in favor of this agreement”, but it seems clear that the matter goes a bit deeper than the trade agreement’s architects are trying to show.

Actually the CETA is widely seen as a template for a larger pact between the EU and the United States, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). That’s why many groups, including trade unions and consumer groups, say that having mechanisms such as the ISDS clause-related ones in the Canada deal would set a wrong precedent. Indeed Germany, in particular, is pressing for a contentious arbitration mechanism to be excluded from the CETA with a view on a final EU-US TTIP final agreement. Therefore Berlin and the other opponents want the CETA to be revised again.

According to the international press, Canada’s PM Stephen Harper said that it is “normal that signatories to the accord might seek minor changes after the deal is signed”, although many say that more likely the agreement will remain untouched. European Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht told the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on Thursday that the deal should not be modified again right now. “If we re-open negotiations on CETA, the deal will be dead” he said.

Following what could be one of the worst economic crises in the western countries’ history, the world’s biggest developed economies are now seeking ambitious trade deals to eliminate “walls”, create jobs and compete against China. This is what I guess we can see as the official response of these countries to the crisis, as it gunned down economies in a much heavier way than expected.

This way I believe that the road to have this kind of agreement revised once they have been “formally” approved might be quite long: none of the two parts, whether it was Canada or the US negotiating with the EU, would like to lose appeal. None of the part would like to show a lack of commitment in this delicate moment.

“We have an agreement, a good agreement”, Mr. Harper told the news conference. “We have all – and those we represent – committed to it and we will honour those commitments”.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Sanctions on Russia to be the biggest unity test at this European Council

4 radical shifts required to achieve universal health coverage worldwide

Further reforms needed for a stronger and more inclusive Argentine economy

Africa-Europe Alliance: European Commission committed to a sustainable African agri-food sector

On World Day to Combat Desertification, UN shines spotlight on ‘true value’ of land

Are you breathing plastic air at home? Here’s how microplastics are polluting our lungs

Summertime Consultation: 84% want Europe to stop changing the clock

Commission launches debate on more efficient decision-making in EU social policy

Can We(esterners) ever understand (the) Chinese

Remarks by High Representative/ Vice-President Federica Mogherini at the press conference following the EU-China Strategic Dialogue

An FTA between EU-US to hurt South Korea

UN food agency appeals for access to key storage facility amid fight for Hudaydah

Return of Kuwaiti property by Iraq, signals hope of ‘full normalization’ between nations: UN Chief

EU budget for 2019: do more for the young, SMEs and the climate, urge MEPs

‘Jerusalem is not for sale’ Palestinian President Abbas tells world leaders at UN Assembly

Why European manufacturing SMEs in the South face fatal dangers

A long German political winter is on the way

The EU Parliament backs the ‘Right2Water’ initiative all the way through

Consumer protection: Deal on EU-wide rules for those sold faulty products

The Parliament rejects cultivating the wrong seeds of the Commission

The European Internet is not neutral and neither is the Commissioner

A Europe that delivers: EU citizens expect more EU level action in future

Human rights are ‘key’ for economic policymaking says UN expert

EU-US to miss 2015 deadline and even lose Germany’s support in TTIP’s darkest week yet

‘Alarming levels’ of methamphetamine trafficking in Asia’s Mekong, UN warns

Brexit talks: Today the world to hear of a predictable failure

Not a single child spared the ‘mind-boggling violence’ of Yemen’s war

Central African Republic: UNICEF outlines key actions so fresh peace deal can make real difference for children

Crimean crisis: not enough to slow down European indices

FROM THE FIELD: Weather reports come to aid of Uganda’s farmers

EU economy: Between recession and indiscernible growth

Estonia is making public transport free

Do electronic cigarettes produce adverse health effects?

EU budget: Commission proposes €1.26 billion to reinforce the European Solidarity Corps

Climate change: Direct and indirect impacts on health

Eurozone: A Sluggish economy offers no extra jobs

UN forum to bring ‘big space data’ benefits to disaster response in Africa

EU to negotiate an FTA with Japan

EU Visa Policy: Commission welcomes agreement to strengthen EU visa rules

Let us keep ‘their spirit of service alive’: Guterres leads tributes to UN workers who died in Ethiopia crash

Prisons are failing. It’s time to find an alternative

Blockchain can change the face of renewable energy in Africa. Here’s how

MEPs want to ensure sufficient funding for Connecting Europe’s future

Youth Entrepreneurship Issue of the month: JEN, organisers of JADE October Meeting, on why JEs should come together

Peacekeeping chief highlights challenges facing UN Police

Why medicine is relevant to the battle against climate change

Sweden gives all employees time off to be entrepreneurs

Here are 3 alternative visions for the future of work

Tackling Youth Unemployment

New EU short-stay visas: more advantages for legitimate travellers

Trump badly cornered at home by agribusiness and steel consumer lobbies: Trade

UNESCO experts ready to assist reconstruction of iconic Notre Dame, following devastating blaze

The JADE Spring Meeting is about to begin

The EU learns about fishing and banking from tiny Iceland

Congrats to the #FutureofMalta: a new age of voting

State of the Union 2018: The Hour of European Sovereignty

Amending Guatemala ‘reconciliation law’ would lead to unjust amnesty, warns Bachelet

Protests, violence in Haiti prompts international call for ‘realistic and lasting solutions’ to crisis

Romanian Presidency priorities discussed in committees

Yemen: ‘A great first step’ UN declares as aid team accesses grain silo which can feed millions

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s