MEPs ratified the CETA trade agreement of free trade between the EU and Canada on Wednesday 15th February, at a session in Strasbourg. The treaty will be able to partially take effect from the 1st April. But there is still a big hurdle for the text: the ratification by national parliaments. In case of rejection of a single Member State, the treaty will not be ratified definitively.
By a vote of 408 against 254 (33 abstentions), Parliament ratified the trade agreement with Canada.
— Philippe Juvin (@philippejuvin) February 15, 2017
Remove 99% of customs duties with Canada, it is the object of the “Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA)”, which has been negoitiated with the European Union for seven years. From this thick document of over 1,600 pages, the text advocates promise that he would advance the 25% of EU trade with Canada, its 12th trading partner, by growing European GDP of about 12 billion per year. A figure that remains to compare to the 14 EU 600 billion euros of GDP in 2015.
European companies will have access to Canadian government procurement, including cities and provinces who manage a substantial share of public spending. For now, the Europeans, themselves, already granted broad access to their market to Canadian companies. This trade agreement will not change the EU rules on food safety or environmental protection, provides the EU.
There remains the thorny issue of the arbitral tribunal. It is this point that is currently derail negotiations on the “TTIP” , the free trade agreement between EU and US. This court has 15 judges appointed by the EU and Canada. All hearings will be public and it will be possible to appeal. However, opponents of the project remain concerned on this point.
What are the next steps?
The EU do much of the treaty will enter into force provisionally from 1 April. This will essentially regards the provisions under exclusive EU competence. Among the chapters provisionally excluded, the famous arbitration tribunal. In case of dispute with a state, a company must make a complaint to the jurisdiction of the country concerned or the International Arbitration Chamber of Paris, for example.
It remains a major obstacle to CETA, to enter into force definitively, it must be approved by the 38 national and regional parliaments of the EU. A very uncertain process that could take years. The regional parliament of Wallonia in Belgium and had only delayed the signing of the agreement in October 2016.