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Trudeau meets with Merkel, Hollande and Schulz to get CETA ratified in Europe

Trudeau and Schulz

Photo: Trudeau will meet with Schulz tomorrow to discuss CETA.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is in Switzerland now for the global elite gathering known as the World Economic Forum, will be meeting with Martin Schulz, the head of the European Parliament, at the Zurich airport tomorrow (Jan. 23) to push for the ratification of the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

He has already met with German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president François Hollande this week to win support for CETA.

CBC quotes Trudeau saying, “I’ve had many conversations with European leaders on the importance of signing and ratifying CETA. This is an important opportunity both for Canada and Europe and I’m looking forward to getting it signed.” He also stated, “[Trade minister Chrystia Freeland is] working very, very hard on this file and connecting with negotiators and parliamentarians. I’ll continue to support her.” The article adds, “Elsewhere at Davos on Friday (Jan. 22), Freeland tweeted that she’d met with Cecilia Malmström, the Swedish politician currently serving as the EU’s trade commissioner.

In terms of Trudeau’s meeting with Schulz tomorrow, the news report notes, “Prior to assuming the presidency — similar to a speaker in North American legislatures — Schulz was the leader of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) in Brussels. This group of 190 members of the European Parliament (MEPs) is significant because unlike some parties in Brussels, it includes representatives from all 28 member states. S&D, currently the second-largest party in the legislature, is also considered a potential swing vote come ratification time. In Schulz’s home country, German social democrats have expressed skepticism about the EU’s coveted trade deals with both Canada and the U.S.”

It is not a certainty that the European Parliament would ratify CETA.

The article explains, “Last November, Sorin Moisa, a Romanian S&D MEP who sits on the EU’s trade committee and is his party’s ‘rapporteur’ for CETA, wrote that Canada and the EU Commission still need to convince ‘a significant majority’ of social democrats who oppose the current investment clause on principle. ‘That is not an easy task and it will require more than tinkering with the controversial [ISDS] system’, he wrote. ‘Should this upgrade not take place there is a very serious risk that the treaty would be rejected by the European Parliament.’ ‘The number of MEPs opposing ISDS is much higher than the number of MEPs opposing CETA’, he continued. ‘ISDS is the thorn in the flesh of CETA. This reflects a high degree of social mobilisation in a few large member states of the European Union’, Moisa said. ‘The only way to solve the problem is to confront it head-on.'”

In terms of “tinkering”, Malmström has proposed an Investment Court System provision replace the ISDS provision.

But Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow has stated, “This reform still fails to require foreign investors – like everyone else, including domestic investors – to go to a country’s domestic courts before seeking an international remedy. The proposed investment court system still gives a special status to foreign corporations by allowing them to challenge the laws that apply to everyone else through a special system outside established court systems.” In short, investor state rules – whether ISDS or ICS – give special rights to corporations, but not basic protections to states, their populations or the land and water.

Barlow will be back in Europe this spring to meet with MEPs in Brussels as well as government officials and civil society allies in key EU countries.

It is expected that CETA could go to a ratification vote in the European Parliament this fall or early in 2017.

For more on our campaign to stop CETA, please click here.