Ottawa – Today, the European Commission recommended that the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the EU go to the EU parliament as a mixed agreement, meaning that it will require the approval of national parliaments.
“Having worked with European civil society organizations, it’s clear that there is a growing resistance to CETA, and that its ratification is not the cakewalk that Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland suggests it will be,” says Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians.
The issue for the European Union is whether or not CETA requires the approval of member states as well as the European Parliament. The member states in the European Union are adamant that it is a mixed agreement. The countries say that provisions on investment and other issues are in their domestic jurisdiction, not that of the European Union.
The agreement will now have to be adopted by all the member states, where there is growing opposition. Romania and Bulgaria have said that they will vote against CETA if Canada doesn’t change its visa requirements. In Belgium and Germany, where regional or lower house parliaments would have a say, Wallonia has stated it would reject CETA, and the German lower house, the Bundesrat, is also likely to defeat the agreement. As well, in the Netherlands, citizens are initiating a referendum on CETA. Poland, Slovenia, and Austria have also expressed grave concerns.
Given the uncertainty around Brexit and the fact that our largest EU trading partner is no longer in CETA, the Council of Canadians calls on the federal government to take a step back and do a proper cost-benefit analysis of CETA.
“Like many Canadians, Europeans are worried about CETA’s attacks on democracy, its weakening of social and safety standards, its contribution to privatization and attacks on public services,” says Barlow. “After the Brexit vote, policy makers on both sides of the Atlantic would be better counseled to listen to voters, rather than pushing discredited solutions down people’s throats.”
The Council of Canadians has been actively lobbying elected officials in Europe and Canada for the past seven years. The European Council is expected to vote on CETA on October 18. It will then go to the European Parliament and member states.