The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the European Union (EU) and Canada, enters into effect provisionally on Thursday, close to a year after being signed by European leaders and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. However, one of its most disputed components, its dispute-resolution mechanism, will have to await ratification by all member States – and in some cases their regional parliaments – before it can become effective.
CETA had been signed amid great pomp in Brussels on 30 October 2016 by the chairs of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, and the European Council, Donald Tusk, along with Trudeau, after six years of negotiations.
In the final stretch before the signing, Wallonia had been at the heart of a polemic after refusing to delegate signature power to the federal Government unless a number of questions were answered to its satisfaction.
The Walloon Government, then led by Socialist Paul Magnette, succeded in making Belgium take to the Court of Justice of the European Union to question the compatibility of some aspects of CETA with European Law.
According to the European Commission, the new agreement will be of particular benefit to the smallest companies, saving them time and money, for example by avoiding redundant requirements regarding testing goods, long customs procedures and high legal fees.