Sunday

19th Feb 2017

Interview

Canada trade deal is 'wrong enemy'

  • Artis Pabriks hopes the EP plenary will vote on the deal this year. (Photo: European Parliament)

Europe risks its status as a global player if it fails to agree the CETA trade deal with Canada, the European Parliament's rapporteur for the issue told EUobserver.

Artis Pabriks was speaking before EU 27 leaders meet in Bratislava on Friday (16 September) to find common ground after Brexit.

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.

One senior EU official said leaders “should be rebuilding consensus on trade policy” as heads of government attempt to provide protection from the negative effects of globalisation.

While there is increasing opposition to the American trade deal, TTIP, “CETA is a very significant test for Europe”, the official said.

The European Commission hopes EU countries will authorise it to sign the deal before October when Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau travels to Brussels.

A provisional application of the deal after it is signed and before ratification by member states is still under discussion.

In the European Parliament the socialists have been divided on the issue.

The Latvian EPP politician told this website: “Canada is a country with which we have extremely similar values, similar interests. I really do wonder - if we can't make a smooth deal with them, then for God’s sake who can we do a deal with?"

“I would say Canada for then EU is a closer partner, than some EU countries to other EU countries."

Pabriks said he hoped socialist MEPs would come on board by December or at least by early next year. A vote on the idea in the plenary could take place in December or in the first two months of 2017.

“If we want to show that European institutions and Europe are a serious global partner and a serious global player, then I don’t see hindrances to pass this deal still within this year in EP,” he argued.

“It is a question of political will.”

The rapporteur argues that provisional application of the deal should start as soon as the EP has voted on it.

Addressing the issue of Canadian visa requirements for Romania and Bulgaria, which has put ratification into question in those two countries, Pabriks said he was confident Canada would make a “positive step” soon.

Pabriks, a former defence and foreign affairs minister, added that players outside the EU, like Russia, are skilfully using these discussions “in order to blow up transatlantic connections”.

Controversial courts

Asked about the concerns surrounding the investment courts, which will give companies the right to sue governments, Pabriks said the courts set up in CETA would be an international system with independent judges, and that states were perfectly capable of winning cases.

He said opponents of the agreement should study its 1,500 pages as it is available online.

“Once we adopt it, people will see it is not endangering their lives," he said, adding that one should not overestimate its impact.

Pabriks said there would be a €12 billion increase in trade, and the deal would open up Canada for European small and medium-size businesses.

It would also help to set higher standards in international trade, making it possible for the EU to request higher standards from other partners, like China or India.

TTIP-effect

He acknowledged that increasing opposition to the US-EU trade deal, TTIP, with French president Francois Hollande adding his voice to chorus recently, has an effect on discussion over CETA.

“Those who want to kill TTIP, also want to kill CETA,” Pabriks said.

But he advised national politicians not to give into populism, and not promise voters an end to trade deals.

“I know how difficult it is to go for elections. But I still would say, trying to fish for votes with such announcements, like TTIP is dead, will not be really appreciated by the end by voters,” he said.

Pabriks said he understood the concerns over globalisation, but that EU countries would be wrong to choose protectionism and building fences and walls.

“The problem is we are trying to figure out a way to protect ourselves within a changing world, but we are picking the wrong enemies. International trade is neither enemy, nor forbidding international trade will solve the global problems,” he said.

Socialist MEPs split on EU-Canada trade deal

MEPs' first exchange of views on CETA revealed that the socialist block is still undecided on the deal, and Canada's visa obligation for Bulgarian and Romanian citizens looks like a major stumbling block.

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.

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.

EU-Canada trade deal faces final hurdles

EU states could sign off the Canada-EU trade deal next week, if the consitutional court in Germany, or a Belgian regional parliament does not stop them.

Stakeholder

EU-Canada trade deal is 'value-based'

At the ALDE pre-summit meeting, Syria, Russia, the Turkey migration deal, the refugee crisis and Brexit were among the topics discussed. But Ceta was the big issue.

Opinion

Unfair EU-Canada trade deal is wrong response to Trump

The EU-Canada trade deal, which is to be voted on in the European Parliament next week, cements the inequalities, political exclusion and favours to corporations that feed far-right groups in Europe.

Visual Data

EU farming policy: The damage done by 20 years of inertia

The EU Commission will ask the public later this week how the common agricultural policy should be overhauled. Data from the past two decades reveals a catalogue of missed chances and failed reforms.

News in Brief

  1. Migrants storm Spanish enclave of Ceuta
  2. Spain's princess fined for tax fraud, husband sentenced
  3. EU to invest millions in energy infrastructure
  4. Dutch data watchdog forces online vote aides to up security
  5. EU allows Lithuania to ban Russian tv channel
  6. Finland announces increase in defence spending
  7. Ex-PM Blair says Brits should 'rise up' against Brexit
  8. Nato chief says facts to prevail over fake news

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Fees: Council Reaches Agreement on Wholesale Caps
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Innovation House Opens in New York to Help Startups Access US Market
  3. Centre Maurits CoppietersMinorities and Migrations
  4. Salzburg Global SeminarThe Child in the City: Health, Parks and Play
  5. UNICEFNumber of Ukrainian Children Needing Aid Nearly Doubles to 1 Million Over the Past Year
  6. Centre Maurits CoppietersThe Situation of Refugee Women in Europe
  7. Salzburg Global SeminarToward a Shared Culture of Health: Charting the Patient-Clinician Relationship
  8. European Free AllianceAustria Should Preserve & Promote Bilingual and Multinational Carinthia
  9. Martens CentreShow Your Love for Democracy! Take Part in Our Contest: "If It's Broken, Let's Fix It"
  10. CISPECloud Computing Leaders Establish Data Protection Standards to Protect Customer Data
  11. Malta EU 2017Landmark Deal Reached With European Parliament on Portability of Online Content
  12. Belgrade Security ForumBSF 2017: Building a Common Future in the Age of Uncertainty