EU Parliament approves CETA: the EU-Canada free trade deal sees the light in Trump’s gloomy era

eu-canada-ceta-fta

Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the EC, Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the EC, and Cecilia Malmström, Member of the EC in charge of Trade, participated in the 16th EU/Canada Summit together with Justin Trudeau, Canadian Prime Minister, Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, and Martin Schulz, President of the EP. Greeting between Donald Tusk, Justin Trudeau and Jean-Claude Juncker (from left to right). © European Union , 2016 / Source: EC – Audiovisual Service / Photo: Jennifer Jacquemart.

After seven years of talks and remarkable twists, the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) was approved by the European Parliament last week. The EU lawmakers formally backed last Wednesday the landmark free trade deal which aims to eliminate up to 99% of tariffs on exported goods with Canada, by a vote of 408 to 254.

Despite crowds of protesters staging a sit-in right in front of the institutional building in Strasbourg, France, last week’s move has already been celebrated by many as a victory for a free-exchange market in the face of growing populist and protectionist calls by US President Donald Trump.

The background

The European Union and Canada started conversations on a possible bilateral trade agreement in late 2008, when the joint study “Assessing the Costs and Benefits of a Closer EU-Canada Economic Partnership” was released. They then officially launched negotiations over a formal free trade pact on 6 May 2009 at the Canada-EU Summit in Prague. An agreement in principle was signed by the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and European Commission President José Manuel Barroso on 18 October 2013, while negotiations were concluded on 1 August 2014.

It took another full two-year period before the two parties could formally sign the deal in October 2016, after months of controversies, amid the rise of anti-globalisation protests and local veto threats. Indeed right before the scheduled signature of CETA on 27 October 2016, the “Walloon question” exploded, when Belgium announced it was unable to go ahead, as one of its regional governments, Wallonia, rejected the signature.

It took days to solve the intra-Belgian controversy, but then Belgium paved the way to CETA as the last member state of the bloc, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the highest representatives of the European Union could finally seal the agreement.

The deal in figures

Now that roughly 58 per cent of the members of the European Parliament have formally ratified the CETA, with a vote of 408 in favour, 254 against and 33 abstentions, the EU-Canada pact is real. The trade between the two sides amounts to more than € 60 billion (€63.5bn, or $ 67bn, or £54bn in 2015), and CETA will see a gradual removal of 99% of non-farm duties between the EU’s market of 500 million people and Canada’s 35 million.

Other than slashing tariffs on farm products and general goods, CETA aims also to create common rules covering a broad range of trade activities, including services and intellectual property.

The EU expects the deal with Ottawa to boost bilateral trade by 20% by removing 98 percent of tariffs on goods from the outset and 99 percent after seven years. Supporters claim that the pact will boost the EU economy by 12 billion euros ($12.7 billion) a year and Canada’s by C$12 billion ($9.18 billion) annually, as well as expand two-way trade by about a quarter. The Guardian reports that CETA will be worth $1.6bn a year to Britain alone, in the period before the UK withdraws from the EU.

Open markets and free trade

The agreement has been welcomed by many as a success for an open markets policy, in the face of protectionist actions by US President Donald Trump, who withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and wants to reshape the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, welcomed the agreement and said it represents “an important milestone in the democratic process of ratification of the agreement”. “This progressive agreement is an opportunity to shape globalisation together and influence the setting of global trade rules”, he added.

Guy Verhofstadt, the leader of the ALDE liberal group, openly mentioned Mr. Trump and said: “President Trump has given us another good reason to intensify our links with Canada”. “While Trump introduces tariffs, we are not only tearing them down but also setting the highest progressive standards”, he also said last week.

Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström also commented the move and said: “This vote is the start of a new era in EU-Canada relations – together we are sending a strong signal today. By building bridges rather than walls, we can face the challenges that confront our societies together”. “In these uncertain times, with rising protectionism around the world, CETA underlines our strong commitment to sustainable trade”, she highlighted in an official EU press release.

Hot topics and open complaints

However, the deal is still extremely divisive, especially in the Old Continent. As it happens for the TTIP, European trade unions and environmental groups believe the pact will ultimately lower European standards in a broad range of goods, especially in food and environmental questions, and that will also allow multinational corporations to dictate public policy.

The hottest point of discussion through the years has been the so-called Investor-State Dispute Settlement, a clause that would allow multinational companies to sue local governments if found guilty of impeding their interests.

The European Union has repeatedly said that such a clause would never be part of an agreement, and finally announced last week that an “improved Investment Court System” has totally “replaced” the clause in the final CETA text. Despite this, hundreds of protesters gathered at the gates of the European Parliament building in Strasbourg ahead of the vote, protesting against a deal that, according to them, will only benefit large multinational firms.

The EU as a model

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last week praised the European Union as an “unprecedented model for peaceful cooperation”. Speaking to the European Parliament on Thursday, Mr. Trudeau said the 28-nation bloc had a crucial global role to play, Reuters reported. “You are a vital player in addressing the challenges that we collectively face as an international community. Indeed the whole world benefits from a strong EU,” Trudeau stressed.

While commenting the freshly-sealed CETA, Mr. Trudeau said that, in the current times, the EU and Canada “must choose to lead the international economy”, and not “simply be subject to its whims”. “If we are successful, CETA will become the blueprint for all ambitious, future trade deals. If we are not, this could very well be the last. So make no mistake, this is an important moment for us”, he added.

Despite the conclusive vote, CETA will be fully implemented only once the parliaments in all Member States ratify the deal according to their respective domestic constitutional requirements, the European Commission said. According to the European Commission, the EU is Canada’s second largest trade partner after the US, and Canada is the EU’s 12th-biggest.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Featured Stings

European Young Innovators Forum @ European Business Summit 2014: Europe for StartUps, vision 2020

Competing with Apple and leading innovation: Google’s world replies to EU on android charges

Who and why want the EU-US trade agreement here and now

Robot inventors are on the rise. But are they welcomed by the patent system?

This tool shows you which cities will flood as ice sheets melt

The West and Russia impose a new order on the world

GSMA Mobile World Congress Americas

‘Unconscionable’ to kill aid workers, civilians: UN Emergency Coordinator

The global issue of migration in 2017

A new global financial crisis develops fast; who denies it?

Breaking news: Juncker’s Commission mutant trojan horse is on the loose in Strasbourg

ECOFIN: Protecting bankers and tax-evaders

The European Brain Drain: a truth or a myth?

At Ministerial session, UN regional office in Beirut to focus on technology for sustainable development

Can We(esterners) ever understand (the) Chinese

Commission: Raising the social issues that can make or break the monetary union

How we can work together in the fight against NCDs

Mine action is at ‘the nexus’ of peace, security and development: UN official

Nicaragua must end ‘witch-hunt’ against dissenting voices – UN human rights experts

To Brexit, or not to Brexit…rather not: 10 Downing Street, London

A week to decide if the EU is to have a Banking Union

2014 budget: The EU may prove unable to agree on own resources

Big data is coming to agriculture. Farmers must set its course

Latin America’s cities are ready to take off. But their infrastructure is failing them

Inaction on obesity stands in the way of sustainable development

China dazzles the world with her Silk Road plan to connect, Asia, Europe and Africa

The entire Australian state of New South Wales is in drought

It’s time for the world to stand up behind South Africa

A Sting Exclusive: “China is Making Good Stories not Bad Ones”, Ambassador Yang highlights from Brussels

New rules for audiovisual media services approved by Parliament

German and French bankers looted the Irish and Spanish unemployed

The JADE Spring Conference 2017 is casting its shadows before

Preparing the future today: World Health Organisation and young doctors

EU: Huge surplus in the trade of services with the rest of the world

Global Citizen-Volunteer Internships

Is euro to repeat its past highs with the dollar?

European Commission reacts to the US restrictions on steel and aluminium affecting the EU

Why we need both science and humanities for a Fourth Industrial Revolution education

This is how AI can help you make sense of the world

MEP Cristiana Muscardini @ European Business Summit 2014: International Trade in Europe

China is adding a London-sized electric bus fleet every five weeks

A Sting Exclusive: “Delivering on the Environmental Dimension of the new Sustainable Development Agenda”, Ulf Björnholm underscores from UNEP Brussels

Stricter rules and tougher sanctions for market manipulation and financial fraud

Greece and Ukraine main items on EU28 menu; the course is set

How dearly will Germany pay for the Volkswagen emissions rigging scandal

A Valentine’s Special: we can never overdose on love

Global health challenges require global medical students

EU Council approves visa-free travel for Ukraine and cement ties with Kiev

EU Council: Private web data to be protected by…abusers

EU cracks under the weight of its policy on the Ukraine-Russia nub

Aidex: the Global Humanitarian and Development Aid Event

MWC 2016 LIVE: BT chief aims to be at UK 5G forefront

UN rights chief calls for release of hundreds abducted and abused in South Sudan

Commission sets moderate greenhouse gas reduction targets for 2030

India-UN fund gets 22 development projects off the ground in first year

In Tokyo, UN chief expresses full support for US-Japan dialogue with North Korea

Merkel had it her way with the refugees & immigrants but can Greece and Turkey deliver?

The ECB tells Berlin that a Germanic Eurozone is unacceptable and doesn’t work

Disaster Medicine in Medical Education: the investment you just can´t afford to ignore

EU and New Zealand launch trade negotiations

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