Skip to content

NEWS: CETA to be signed within ‘a few weeks or months’

Campbell Clark of the Globe and Mail reports, “Free-trade talks between Canada and the European Union are close to completion, European officials say. …EU external affairs’ department’s director for the Americas, Tomas Dupla del Moral, said during a visit to Ottawa, ‘. He said he could not put a specific timeframe on the talks, although others had indicated they expect the talks to be concluded in a few weeks or months. EU ambassador Matthias Brinkmann said the two sides hope to conclude the deal by summer.”

While the “by summer” timeframe has been the expectation for some time, this report is also consistent with earlier reports that CETA would be signed by February or March. It is anticipated that CETA will be signed at a high-level Canada-EU summit that will take place in Canada (specific date and location not yet announced). If CETA is signed as is now expected, the Council of Canadians will seek to continue to build municipal opposition (which is growing with a battle in Toronto now underway), provincial opposition (though media reports suggest all provinces are on side with CETA), within the House of Commons (though obviously limited by the false Harper majority), but perhaps mostly in the European Parliament (where we may have the best chance given the EP does not have a ruling majority, it has expressed clear concerns about CETA particularly in relation to the tar sands, and has just elected as its president Martin Schulz, a German social democrat).

“The formal rounds of negotiating sessions — nine of them — are now over, Mr. Dupla del Moral said, and now it is just a question of clearing away a few remaining disagreements… ‘We are not talking about something that is going to be dragging on.'”

The Council of Canadians has intervened in at least five of these rounds – in Brussels in July 2010 (where we first made contact with MEPs and European civil society), Ottawa in October 2010 (with a zombie protest during our annual general meeting), Brussels in January 2011 (where we protested with European civil society groups outside the European Commission offices, and met with provincial negotiators), Brussels in July 2011 (where we leafleted outside the negotiations and garnered increased media coverage), and Ottawa in October 2011 (with our Trojan Horse protest on Parliament Hill and first-ever public debate on CETA with MPs). There are now reports that an informal negotiating round will take place January 30 to February 4 in Ottawa.

“There are concerns that disputes between Canada and Europe could derail the trade talks even at this late stage.” Those are: 1) “Canada has objected to an EU fuel quality directive that characterizes oil from Alberta’s oil sands as a high-emissions fuel.” 2. “And the EU’s move to include air travel in its carbon-emissions trading system has led to failed court action by North American airlines and intense objections from Canada and the United States.”

We continue to take action to support the EFQD (with an action alert at http://canadians.org/action/2011/EU-FQD.html, involvement in newspaper ads supporting the EFQD in key European newspapers, and a lobby-busting tour to European embassies in Ottawa during the first week of February) and plan a further, potentially decisive, intervention in Europe as the directive comes to a vote later this year.

For more on our CETA campaign, please see http://canadians.org/ceta.