EU Commission Puts Canada-EU Trade Deal on Long Path to Approval

With questions being asked about the future of the Canada-Europe trade agreement following the UK’s vote to leave the European Union, the EU has laid out its plan to approve the deal.

The European Commission on Tuesday formally proposed to the Council of the EU the signature and conclusion of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), but rather than proposing it as a bilateral deal, the Commission is calling CETA a “mixed” agreement. The deal could be provisionally applied after Council approval, but the proposal means parliaments for all member states will have to ratify it before it can fully come into force.

For Canadian agricultural exporters awaiting access to new markets in the EU, the “mixed” proposal means parts of the agreement could take effect after the Council approves it, but full implementation of the deal will not be fast-tracked. There’s also the risk of it being vetoed by individual countries who aren’t happy with the text.

The Council of Canadians, which is lobbying the Canadian government to hold off on ratifying CETA, says the deal is vulnerable to defeat.

Canada’s Minister of International Trade, Chrystia Freeland, still says she hopes to have the deal signed this fall and ratified in early 2017. Here’s her statement, forwarded by her office on Tuesday:

CETA remains my top priority. CETA means more growth, and more growth means more jobs. Canada and the EU are moving forward with this 21st century progressive trade agreement, and today is an important step in that process.

I am very pleased that the EU Commission is today presenting CETA to the European Union’s member states. It is going forward as a mixed agreement — meaning Europeans at the national level will have a democratic say on this agreement, just as CETA will be debated in our own Parliament. This decision was anticipated and will keep CETA on track.

Our government looks forward to signing CETA with our European partners this year and to its ratification in Canada and by the EU Parliament early next year. It is an excellent agreement for Canada and the EU, and will deliver positive results and economic opportunities for our middle class.

I remain in close contact with the EU Trade Commissioner, Cecilia Malmström, whom I will meet in Shanghai this weekend, and many of my European colleagues, including Sigmar Gabriel, Mathias Fekl, and Martin Schulz. CETA will provide a strong foundation for Canada and the EU to demonstrate global leadership on a progressive and inclusive approach to trade.

“I now hope that the deal with Canada can be signed, provisionally applied and concluded quickly, to the benefit of consumers, workers, and entrepreneurs – this is an agreement that Europe needs,” noted EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström in a statement also issued Tuesday.

The EU Council is expected to vote on CETA on October 18, which coincides with reports that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau plans to be in Brussels for a signing ceremony in October. From there it would go to the EU Parliament and member states for their approval.

More on the EU’s plan for CETA: