Monday

16th Sep 2019

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

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.

News in Brief

  1. Nearly 100 refugees evacuated from Libya to Italy
  2. Juncker to meet Johnson on Monday
  3. First Hungary 'Article 7' hearing set for Monday
  4. Vestager picks Danish EU ambassador as cabinet head
  5. Commissioner hearings will start 30 September
  6. Italy says EU countries agree to take in rescued migrants
  7. Germany to organise Libya conference on arms embargo
  8. European Parliament to support another Brexit delay

Opinion

Why von der Leyen must put rights at core of business

Ursula von der Leyen's in-tray must include those European executives on trial for systematic workplace harassment, the break-up of European slavery rings, and allegations of European companies' abuse in palm oil, including child labour, land grabs, and deforestation.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  6. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  8. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  9. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  10. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  11. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat

Latest News

  1. Brexit and new commission in focus This WEEK
  2. As recession looms Europe needs more spending
  3. How should the EU handle Russia now?
  4. EU defence bravado criticised by auditors
  5. Central European leaders demand EU Balkan accession
  6. Luxembourg's cannabis legalisation is EU opportunity
  7. The Catalan National Day has been a success. Why?
  8. Why I'm voting against the von der Leyen commission

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  5. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  8. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us