The European Parliament voted yesterday in Strasbourg for the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada, concluding the ratification process of this deal at the EU level. The European Commission describes CETA as a state-of-art trade agreement with only benefits for EU.
The deal was approved by 408 votes to 254, with 33 abstentions.
“CETA marks the beginning of a new era in the EU-Canada relationship,” wrote the Commission today (16 February).
Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said, with a tacit reference to Trump’s administration, that “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.”
The Parliament’s decision paves the way for CETA to enter into force provisionally, once it has also been ratified on the Canadian side. CETA will be fully implemented once the parliaments in all Member States ratify the deal according to their respective domestic constitutional requirements.
According to a Commission source at a technical briefing today the agreement will be “provisionally applied” almost in its entirety after Canada has amended some of its own legislation concerning among others intellectual property, copyright and patent laws. This could take a couple of months.
A political uncertainty is the ratification process in the Member States which could take years. Asked what would happen if a Member State would not ratify the agreement the official said that the European Council would then have to decide if the refusal is “permanent and definitive”. Until this happens the agreement will continue to be applied.
Anyway, the agreement will generate benefits from the very start in terms of economic growth. As of the first day of its implementation, Canada will eliminate custom duties worth €400 million for goods originating in the EU. At the end of transitional periods for duty elimination that figure will rise to more than €500 million a year.
The Commission source underlined that CETA will not change the way the EU regulates food safety, including GMO products or the ban on hormone-treated beef, one of the concerns for those who opposed the agreement. All import from Canada will have to respect EU legislation.
“We don’t import GMO products into EU and won’t do it in the future. No international trade agreement changes national legislation,” the source said.
Another concern was the risk of privatization of public services. According to the Commission source there no provision whatsoever on this in the agreement. Privatization is a matter that is decided by EU authorities.
The negotiations on CETA continued during several years and have been surrounded by misinformation, confusion and even blatant lies, according to the Commission source who was involved in the negotiations.
The Brussels Times