Saturday

24th Feb 2018

Socialist MEPs split on EU-Canada trade deal

  • Latvian MEP Artis Pabriks said the Canada-EU trade deal compared favourably with the EU-US one. (Photo: European Parliament)

The European Parliament’s socialist group still has not decided if it will back the EU-Canada free trade agreement (CETA).

”We aren’t yet convinced that CETA’s investment protection system addresses all our concerns,” British Labour MEP David Martin told the parliament’s international trade committee on Wednesday (31 August).

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

”We also want to know for sure that nothing in CETA forces privatisation of public services and prevents countries from reversing privatisation.”

It was the first time the parliament has debated the agreement, on which negotiations ended this spring. The European Commission hopes to sign the deal at an EU-Canada summit in October.

Socialist support is crucial for the deal to pass.

Marietje Schaake from the liberal group Alde urged MEPs to back the deal.

”To the colleagues who seem to think the deal can still be changed: negotiations are now over. Perfect can become the enemy of the good,” she said.

”If this derails the EU will no longer be a credible trade negotiation partner.

That would have considerable consequences for the EU and the planet. We would no longer be able to set modern standards for trade deals.”

Trade under pressure

Anti-trade and eurosceptic feelings are rife in Europe. Almost half the population opposes the deal being negotiated with the US known as TTIP, the latest Eurobarometer survey suggests.

TTIP came under additional pressure on Tuesday when France said it will officially request that negotiations are brought to a halt.

Paris is troubled by the lack of public support and the failure of American counterparts to budge on key EU demands.

But the French government still supports CETA.

Justin Trudeau's government has gone much further to accommodate EU wishes than the Americans.

Artis Pabriks, a centre-right Latvian who serves as the parliament’s CETA rapporteur, stressed that Canada had agreed to open its public procurement market for EU business and exclude some sensitive sectors, such as healthcare and culture, from the deal. The EU was also able to protect its food heritage by 145 geographical indicators (GIs).

All of these are still matter of dispute in the EU-US talks.

French MEP Yannick Jadot warned, however, against stereotyping.

”It’s not a simple story of nice Canadians and evil Americans,” he said, and added that the deal would increase medicine costs in Canada by 10 percent, and that Canada is suing the US under a similar investment protection system after the Obama administration stopped a planned US-Canada pipeline for environmental reasons.

Visa issues

Romanian MEP Iuliu Winkler, from the EPP group, meanwhile said Canada did not treat all EU member states alike as it had not scrapped a visa requirement for Bulgarian and Romanian citizens.

”Ottawa seems to be using an old map of the EU, with only 26 countries,” Winkler said. ”Please send them a new one,” he told the commission representative Ignacio Garcia Bercero.

Even if visa liberalisation isn't part of CETA, Bulgaria and Romania have threatened to block the ratification, unless their citizens are granted visa free travel.

Some MEPs also protested against the idea that CETA would be provisionally applied, pending ratification by national and regional parliaments.

The European Commission said in July that the deal only needed to be approved by the EU Parliament and Council. But it still would put the text to a vote by national and some regional assemblies.

In order to speed up the implementation process, the Commission will ask the Council to approve a provisional application of the agreement, once it has been approved by the EU institutions.

Dutch far-left MEP Anne-Marie Mineur found that undemocratic.

Other MEPs protested, saying the European parliament was an elected body and its approval would be enough to warrant provisional application of the trade treaty.

EU wobbles on Canada free trade

Following criticism of his leadership, Juncker could yield to member states on how to ratify a free trade agreement with Canada.

Interview

Canada trade deal is 'wrong enemy'

The EU's trade deal with Canada is coming under pressure from critics and member states, but the EP rapporteur argues supporters of protectionism are picking the wrong enemy.

Canada woos sceptical EU left on trade deal

Future of CETA largely hangs on the support of Europe’s social democrats. Canada’s trade minister has been touring hotspots of scepticism to convince them that the deal is progressive.

Opinion

Greek government's steady steps to exit bailout programme

Growth predictions are positive, exports increasing, unemployment dropping and credit-ratings up, says the head of Greece's Syriza delegation to the European Parliament. Now the government in Athens is looking to design its own reform programme.

Analysis

We are not (yet) one people

Talks on the next EU budget will start on Friday. Brussels wants to do much more than before – and needs a lot more money. But arguing about funds won't be enough.

News in Brief

  1. EU calls for immediate ceasefire in Syria
  2. UK's post-Brexit vision is 'pure illusion', Tusk says
  3. EU leaders express solidarity with Cyprus in Turkey drill row
  4. EU to double funding for Sahel forces
  5. EU parliament president: 'The immigration problem is Africa'
  6. May to unveil EU departure strategy next week
  7. Pregnant workers may be dismissed, EU court rules
  8. Romanian minister demands anti-corruption prosecutor fired

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ILGA EuropeAnkara Ban on LGBTI Events Continues as Turkish Courts Reject NGO Appeals
  2. Aid & Trade LondonJoin Thousands of Stakeholders of the Global Aid Industry at Aid & Trade London
  3. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.European Free Alliance Joins MHRMI to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism Year to Promote Business and Mutual Ties
  5. European Jewish CongressAt “An End to Antisemitism!” Conference, Dr. Kantor Calls for Ambitious Solutions
  6. UNESDAA Year Ago UNESDA Members Pledged to Reduce Added Sugars in Soft Drinks by 10%
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsUzbekistan: Investigate Torture of Journalist
  8. CESICESI@Noon on ‘Digitalisation & Future of Work: Social Protection For All?’ - March 7
  9. UNICEFExecutive Director's Committment to Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region 2018: Facts, Figures and Rankings of the 74 Regions
  11. Mission of China to the EUDigital Economy Shaping China's Future, Over 30% of GDP
  12. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.Suing the Governments of Macedonia and Greece for Changing Macedonia's Name

Latest News

  1. EU agrees budget to focus on defence, security and migration
  2. EU leaders nix transnational lists, cool on 'Spitzenkandidat'
  3. Regions chief: calls for smaller EU budget are 'impossible'
  4. Election fever picks up This WEEK
  5. EU-Morocco fishing deal casts doubt on EU future foreign policy
  6. EU leaders put 'Spitzenkandidat' on summit menu
  7. European far-right political party risks collapse
  8. The key budget issues on EU leaders' table

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Swedish EnterprisesHarnessing Globalization- at What Cost? Keynote Speaker Commissioner Malmström
  2. European Friends of ArmeniaSave The Date 28/02: “Nagorno-Karabakh & the EU: 1988-2018”
  3. European Heart NetworkSmart CAP is Triple Win for Economy, Environment and Health
  4. European Free AlllianceEFA Joined the Protest in Aiacciu to Solicit a Dialogue After the Elections
  5. EPSUDrinking Water Directive Step Forward but Human Right to Water Not Recognized
  6. European Gaming & Betting AssociationGambling Operators File Data Protection Complaint Against Payment Block in Norway
  7. European Jewish CongressEJC Expresses Deep Concern Over Proposed Holocaust Law in Poland
  8. CECEConstruction Industry Gets Together to Discuss the Digital Revolution @ the EU Industry Days
  9. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Relations in the New Era
  10. European Free AlllianceEnd Discrimination of European Minorities - Sign the Minority Safepack Initiative
  11. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Diversity Shouldn’t Be Only a Slogan” Lorant Vincze (Fuen) Warns European Commission
  12. Dialogue PlatformWhat Can Christians Learn from a Global Islamic Movement?