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Leading French presidential candidate Macron vows to re-evaluate CETA, amend text

Emmanuel Macron, the candidate expected to win the French presidency this Sunday, is now saying that he will establish a committee to investigate the consequences of the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and is suggesting the text of the deal would need to be amended.

The Daily Mail reports, “The CETA pact … is on the verge of collapse in France.”

The newspaper notes, “[Macron] said he would ‘draw all the conclusions’ after he speaks to the European partners of France to ‘have this text amended’.

More specifically, the article adds, “He is calling the trade pact into question over environmental issues. …If elected this Sunday ahead of rival Marine Le Pen of the Front National party he will begin his five-year term by hiring an environmental task force to probe CETA. He said that he wants to to discover ‘what exactly is the environmental consequences of this agreement … conceived apart from the democratic process, in a form of decision that will have to be changed in Europe for the future’.”

The article notes, “Macron is also threatening to overhaul workers rights ‘so that there will be no more unfair competition in Europe’.”

Euractiv.com reports the same information in this way: “In a message of conciliation to voters concerned about globalization, Macron said he would set up a committee to investigate the consequences of the CETA free trade deal between Europe and Canada. He also repeated he would seek fairer EU rules to prevent what he calls ‘social dumping’ – under which companies can move jobs to member countries where labour is cheaper and employ imported workers at lower rates.”

Macron is a former investment banker who was a member of the Socialist Party between 2006 and 2009. As the Minister of the Economy under prime minister Manuel Valls (who has been likened to Tony Blair), he pushed through business-friendly reforms. In August 2016 he resigned from that role to launch his bid to become president. He is running under the banner of En Marche!, a social liberal political party he founded.

In February, the French newspaper Le Monde reported, “In France, almost all candidates declared in the presidential election have already expressed opposition to the adoption [of CETA]. The only one that is openly supportive of it is Macron. [He] said in autumn during the Brussels Days that this treaty ‘objectively improves things in our trade relationship with Canada’. In October 2016, he said that CETA should be ratified exclusively at the European level and not before the 27 national parliaments.”

That position appears now to be shifting.

The Euractiv.com article notes, “Two opinion polls showed Macron winning [Sunday’s election] with between 59 and 61% of the vote.”

The next president of France will be sworn in by May 14.