Published: Thu, February 16, 2017
World Media | By Joan Schultz

SWA urges MEPs to back CETA deal

The European Parliament passed a European Union trade deal with Canada on Wednesday during an at-times raucous session in Strasbourg, France.

Greenpeace EU trade policy adviser Shira Stanton said: "Despite today's vote, the ratification of CETA by all of Europe's parliaments is still the most unlikely outcome". Opposition to the deal, and similar ones like the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), has been growing among public and professional bodies, who argue that these deals will hinder standards on products and markets as well as on climate and environmental policies adopted in the EU.

At their meeting on February 13, 2017 U.S. President Donald Trump (right) gave vague reassurances to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about changes to their trade.

The agreement with Canada has become a test case for the EU's political credibility and commercial heft since Britain voted to leave the bloc, a Belgian region almost scuttled the Canadian accord and Trump turned the U.S.'s back on multilateral trade pacts.

The EU also recognises EU-US trade talks are frozen, but wants CETA to be one of a series of ambitious trade deals it plans with countries, including Japan, Vietnam and Mexico. It could already provisionally apply starting April.

It took eight years to get to this point - negotiations began in 2009, and it will be at least until April 1 before the deal takes effect, an European Union press release stated.

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"By adopting CETA, we chose openness and growth and high standards over protectionism and stagnation", said Parliament's rapporteur for the CETA agreement Artis Pabriks, after the vote.

However, many campaigners have highlighted fears the deal will allow multi-national companies to challenge Irish laws and regulations in court.

Overall, the agreement is expected to raise the level of the EU's annual GDP by around €12 billion per year and increase bilateral trade by €26 billion.

CETA is supposed to boost trade by removing tariffs on most traded goods and services and providing mutual recognition of certification for a wide range of products. Critics argue this will undermine national governments and public interest in favour of investment strategies of big multinational corporations.

Most centre-left Socialist & Democrat group in the European Parliament agreed to back CETA in an internal meeting yesterday evening.

Of the 695 MEPs present in the 751-seat legislature, 408 voted in favor, 254 against and 33 abstained.

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