European Parliament gives green light to CETA


"When we leave the European Union, we will be able to build upon the blueprint of CETA and agree an even more comprehensive, mutually-beneficial deal truly tailored to Britain and Canada".

"Now, we live in a time when many people are anxious that the current system only benefits society's luckiest few".

Parts of the deal, including tariff reduction, will go into effect immediately, but some portions, including investments, will only be enacted after clearance by more than 30 European parliaments and the assemblies of Belgium's regions. With regard to climate, social rights and financial sector oversight for example, "there are no clear provisions in the agreement", said Yannick Jadot from the Green Party Group.

It also puts Canada in an advantageous position: We have a free trade deal with the world's two largest economies, the European Union and the U.S. They will not have a comparable deal with each other for years, if ever.

After a somewhat tumultous debate, the European Parliament today in Strasbourg voted in favor of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Canada.

Writing in the New Statesman, Molly Scott Cato commented: "While EU negotatiators may be able to bash out a deal to their liking, Brexit may leave us very vulnerable indeed".

"He will talk about how it is the most progressive trade agreement in the world and how it should serve as a model for subsequent trade agreements between countries", an official in his office said.

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But, Trudeau said Thursday: "This is just the beginning".

Following the approval by parliament, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was due to address MEPs in person yesterday.

Anti-trade groups vowed to do everything possible to rally opposition in regional parliaments to eventually block the full implementation of the pact, which will knock down tariffs for 35 million Canadians and 500 million Europeans.

In what appeared to be an oblique reference to Trump, and to the populists gaining traction ahead of several key elections in Europe this year, he said that in CETA "we have built something, something important, especially at this moment on your continent and mine". According to a European Commission presentation, Canada will remove customs duties on EU exports worth Euro 400 million every year, rising to Euro 500 million a year at the end of phase-in periods.

The Canadian leader gave his speech fresh off of a trip to Washington, where he and President Trump attempted to bridge their many differences even as Trump threatens to scrap the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

"We believe that the momentum against Ceta will have an impact on the ratification process at member state level, the struggle is not over yet". And thanks to multilateral deals such as the WTO, Canada-EU trade is already highly free.

The Canadian leader will next travel to Berlin, where he will meet with German President Joachim Gauck and have a working lunch with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.