Tuesday

6th Dec 2016

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.

No euro crisis after Italian vote, says EU

The Italian PM's resignation after a failed constitutional referendum has not changed the situation, the Eurogroup president has said. Financial markets have remained stable.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressEJC President Breathes Sigh of Relief Over Result of Austrian Presidential Election
  2. CESICongress Re-elects Klaus Heeger & Romain Wolff as Secretary General & President
  3. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAustrian Association for Betting and Gambling Joins EGBA
  4. ACCAWomen of Europe Awards: Celebrating the Women who are Building Europe
  5. European Heart NetworkWhat About our Kids? Protect Children From Unhealthy Food and Drink Marketing
  6. ECR GroupRestoring Trust and Confidence in the European Parliament
  7. UNICEFChild Rights Agencies Call on EU to put Refugee and Migrant Children First
  8. MIRAIA New Vision on Clean Tech: Balancing Energy Efficiency, Climate Change and Costs
  9. World VisionChildren Cannot Wait! 7 Priority Actions to Protect all Refugee and Migrant Children
  10. ANCI LazioRegio-Mob Project Delivers Analysis of Transport and Mobility in Rome
  11. SDG Watch EuropeCivil Society Disappointed by the Commission's Plans for Sustainable Development Goals
  12. PLATO15 Fully-Funded PhD Positions Open – The Post-Crisis Legitimacy of the EU (PLATO)

Latest News

  1. EU ministers approve 'Juncker plan' extension
  2. Commission tries to revive GMO opt-out proposal
  3. Merkel calls for Muslim veil ban
  4. Russia pipeline is security 'threat', US diplomat says
  5. Brexit deal must be done by October 2018, says EU negotiator
  6. Rising to the challenge of 'European Angst'
  7. Polish firm sues EU Commission over Gazprom privileges
  8. ID and police checks await all who enter and leave the EU