EU-Canada trade deal is 'value-based'
At the invitation of ALDE Party President Hans van Baalen MEP, leader of the ALDE Group in the European Parliament Guy Verhofstadt, and Prime Minister of Belgium Charles Michel; liberal Prime Ministers and European Commissioners met at the Egmont Palace in Brussels on Thursday (20 October) ahead of the European Council Summit of the same day.
Syria, Russia, the Turkey migration deal, and the refugee crisis were among the topics discussed. But the majority of the pre-summit meeting was focused on the uncertain status of the EU-Canada trade agreement (Ceta).
Broader repercussions for EU trade
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At the press conference, following the meeting, EU Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom defended the agreement, calling Ceta a "value-based" trade agreement.
"What the NGOs have been calling for in trade agreements for years is actually in Ceta. There are very strong provisions on labour rights and human rights. There's even animal rights referred to in there. There is sustainable development and a commitment to work together on the climate goals of Paris," Malmstrom said.
She also pointed out that "the crown jewel of EU policy has in many ways been EU trade policy." A failed Ceta negotiation will have "broader repercussions for EU trade policy."
Brexit with or without a deal
Another important topic of discussion was Brexit. At the press conference, ALDE party president Hans van Baalen said that the leaders of the party have concluded that "once article 50 is invoked, in 2 years time there has to be a deal and if there is no deal there will be a Brexit without a deal."
The full press conference from the ALDE party pre-summit meeting can be viewed here.