EU-Canada agreement passes final vote in European Parliament
On Wednesday 15 February, the European Parliament convincingly granted its final endorsement to the EU-Canada Free Trade Agreement (CETA). The plenary vote follows votes in a number of Parliamentary committees.
Eight years after CETA negotiations began the European Parliament gave its’ final vote today on the free trade agreement. The vote follows a long and difficult process, in which the Belgian region of Wallonia threatened to capsize the whole agreement. A majority of the European Parliament stuck with the view that CETA is the most modern and progressive trade agreement that the EU has ever negotiated, and thus voted in favour of the agreement.
The approval of CETA by the European Parliament provides a much needed victory for positive globalisation and the wider EU trade policy, says Simon Bergulf, Director of EU Affairs at Danish Shipowners’ Association. He emphasises that the agreement contains an ambitious maritime chapter that will ensure continued free and fair access for European shipping companies to Canadian ports and present new opportunities for feeder and dredging services.
“Today’s vote comes at a crucial time for the EU’s trade relations as anti-globalisation sentiments are gaining ground in the political debate in Europe. Furthermore, the shipping community stand to benefit from the agreement as our members have maritime business in Canada worth roughly 350 million euro. If trade in goods increases as we have seen in the aftermath of the free trade agreement with South Korea, this figure will grow considerably” he said.
Discussions in the European Parliament have been intense, especially on the environmental chapter where some have voiced concerns that CETA would be an obstacle to retaining high European standards for environmental regulation. Proponents, on the other hand, argue that it will not only help cement high European standards at a global level, but also display a continued commitment to a trade policy that is constructive and benefits both the EU and Canada. The much debated chapter on investor protection is set not to enter into force before the free trade agreement has been ratified by all Member States.
“CETA is not just a good agreement in itself. While previous trade agreements have been based on a positive list of topics to be included, this is the first European agreement based on a negative list. This means that all kinds of trade are part of the agreement, except those that are explicitly exempt. This fundamentally changes the approach of the EU to free trade and enables a far more ambitious text, creating more benefits for businesses and citizens in the EU and Canada” says Simon Bergulf.