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Road to CETA adoption still riddled with obstacles, clear debate needed

Trojan horse

Ottawa – At 3:00 p.m. CET (9:00 a.m. EDT) today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau signed the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) in Brussels. This is the third time Canada has signed the agreement. The Council of Canadians believes that the deal faces an uphill battle over the 2-5 year ratification process.

"The problems still haven’t been ironed out and Wallonia and other parliaments have signalled that they won’t accept CETA in its current form," says Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians.

In order for CETA to enter into force, the deal must survive ratification votes in the European Parliament, as well as 28 national and 10 regional parliaments. If just one of the parliaments rejects the deal, it is unlikely to go ahead. 

Already, in the Belgian declaration, five regions have said that they will reject the investor state dispute settlement (ISDS ) system in its current form. There are serious concerns about the deal in Germany's Bundesrat and a referendum on CETA is planned for the Netherlands. Adding even more uncertainty, there are elections in France and Germany in 2017 where CETA, unpopular in polls, could become a defining ballot-box issue.

The European Court of Justice will also be ruling on the ISDS provision, which could mean that part of the deal is never enforced. And the German Constitutional Court, which has already ruled that ISDS cannot be provisionally applied, is expected to make a second ruling on whether the ISDS provision is compatible with the German constitution.

"Prime Minister Trudeau may get his sought after signing ceremony, but the fate of CETA and its 'investment protection' provisions face a long uphill battle," says Sujata Dey, Trade Campaigner with the Council of Canadians. "More than 3.5 million Europeans have signed a petition against CETA and there is significant opposition in EU member state countries."