Thursday

27th Apr 2017

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).

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

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.

New anti-trust complaint looms over Microsoft

At least three security software companies “met several times” with the European Commission to complain about Microsoft’s alleged abuse of its market position. A formal case could follow.

Investigation

MEPs oppose EU agency to prevent Dieselgate II

The European Parliament said on Tuesday that there should be more EU oversight on how cars are approved, but stopped short of calling for an independent EU agency.

News in Brief

  1. EU parliament moves to lift Le Pen's immunity
  2. EU Commission launches probe into Hungary's university law
  3. Scots slowly losing appetite for independence - poll
  4. Council of Europe puts Turkey on watch list
  5. EU to put parental leave on political agenda
  6. Israel cancels German meeting over human rights groups
  7. Hungary's Orban will participate in EU parliament debate
  8. Malta floats cash-for-refugees plan

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFRace Against Time to Save Millions of Lives in Yemen
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersDeveloping Independent Russian-Language Media in the Baltic Countries
  3. Swedish EnterprisesReform of the European Electricity Market: Lessons from the Nordics, Brussels 2 May
  4. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  5. Counter BalanceCall for EU Commission to Withdraw Support of Trans-Adriatic Pipeline
  6. ACCAEconomic Confidence at Highest Since 2015
  7. European Federation of Allergy and Airways60%-90% of Your Life Is Spent Indoors. How Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect You?
  8. European Gaming and Betting AssociationCJEU Confirms Obligation for a Transparent Licensing Process
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region and the US: A Time of Warlike Rhetoric and Militarisation?
  10. European Free AllianceEFA MEPs Vote in Favor of European Parliament's Brexit Mandate
  11. Mission of China to the EUXinhua Insight: China to Open up Like Never Before
  12. World VisionViolence Becomes New Normal for Syrian Children

Latest News

  1. Brexit is about Europe's future as well
  2. Power struggle in Greenland: Three reasons why the EU should care
  3. Nordic and Baltic countries step up digitalisation efforts
  4. European states still top media freedom list
  5. Let’s not put European public health at risk
  6. Threatened Budapest university calls for EU support
  7. Orban set to face down EU threats
  8. Dont expect 'quick fix' in Syria, China tells EU