While the Conservative majority in Canada’s House of Commons may be backing CETA (along with the Liberals and perhaps the New Democrats), there is conversely possibly a majority in the 751-member European Parliament opposing the deal.
Reuters reports, “EU lawmakers are threatening to block a multibillion-dollar trade pact between Canada and the European Union – a blueprint for a much bigger EU-U.S. deal – because it would allow firms to sue governments if they breach the treaty.” This is the controversial investor-state dispute settlement provision that Germany, Europe’s largest economy, has also objected to along with France.
Significantly, the article highlights, “Together with the Socialists’ 191 members, the political groups opposing the agreement could count on 341 votes, just 35 short of a majority.” But if you calculate opposition among the non-attached members (see below), there may actually be a majority of MEPs who would oppose CETA.
The Reuters report notes opposition to CETA from MEPs Claude Turmes (Luxembourg – Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance), Bas Eickhout (Netherlands – Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance), Tiziana Beghin (Italy – Europe of freedom and direct democracy Group), Marine Le Pen (France – NI, non-attached member), as well as the critical Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament.
Although the article doesn’t provide a chart of the European parliamentary blocs, one can construct it in the following way:
Oppose – 341
Confederal Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left – 52
Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance – 50
Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament – 191
Europe of freedom and direct democracy Group – 48
Swing – 52
Non-attached Members – 52
Support – 358
Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe – 68
Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) – 220
European Conservatives and Reformists Group – 70
Notably, the article doesn’t appear to add any of the non-attached members to reach the 341 vote total opposing CETA. That’s interesting because Marine Le Pen who leads the right-wing National Front opposes CETA. She would bring her 23 MEPs to any vote thus increasing potential opposition to 364 votes, just 12 votes short of a majority. It is highly likely that those 12 votes could be found among the remaining 29 non-attached members of the European Parliament given their Euroskepticism (opposition to the European Union itself).
We’ll need to review and solidify these numbers, and there is still likely a year to go prior to any votes, but the future of CETA looks somewhat precarious in the European Parliament at this moment.
Photo: Seat distribution in the European Parliament by groups.