“Seven years ago, when the Canada-European Union trade agreement (CETA) negotiations began, there was no debate on transparency,” declared European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström Tuesday at a Federal Parliament meeting. “Looking back, we could have done things differently.”
The Commissioner responded in this way to the criticism of several federal deputies on the lack of transparency of negotiations in the framework of the CETA and TTIP transatlantic free trade agreements. The first of these, with Canada, has concluded and must now be voted on, while TTIP is still being negotiated with the United States. “For TTIP, we truly tried” to be more transparent, the Commissioner repeated, while 10,000 to 15,000 protesters are expected in the streets of Brussels Tuesday afternoon to protest against the two treaties.
For Mrs. Malmström, CETA remains an “economically efficient” agreement, since it aims to remove trade barriers and thus stimulate the economy, while protecting public services. “This is a promise. We will not be able to force governments to privatize public services,” she declared.
The Commissioner highlighted that only Canadian companies will be able to access the European market or CETA stipulations, for which merely having an affiliate in Canada will not suffice. Those opposed to CETA fear that US companies may take advantage of the agreement with Canada, particularly for employing the routes of private arbitrage contemplated by the treaty.