MEPs debate CETA trade agreement with business, health, trade unions and farmers


International Trade Committee MEPs, farmers, businesses, public health and trade union representatives debated the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada on Wednesday morning. CETA can only enter into force with the European Parliament’s approval.

Agriculture and business representatives were generally supportive of the agreement, underlining that new market access would foster growth and competitiveness and boost employment.

Trade union and public health advocates raised concerns about the CETA’s possible impacts on public services, the level of protection for workers and the environment, and states’ right to regulate.

Many MEPs argued that CETA is a fair, transparent and geopolitically important agreement, “the best deal we can get” and that it would benefit the European economy. It would also set the standard for further free trade deals, they added. Others were cautiously optimistic and suggested studying the text further.

Some MEPs said that they were still worried about social and environmental standards and that the draft joint interpretive declaration by trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström and Canadian trade minister Chrystia Freeland, which is meant to be a part of the agreement,  does little to dispel such fears as it is not legally binding. A couple of MEPs plainly rejected the deal, echoing fears that it would weaken democracy and only benefit multinational companies.

Next steps

Members of the International Trade Committee are set to vote on the CETA trade deal in December.


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