European Parliament Passes CETA After Debate Over Whether It’s A Good Or Bad Deal 15/02/2017 by Monika Ermert for Intellectual Property Watch 2 Comments Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)After a somewhat tumultous debate, the European Parliament today in Strasbourg voted in favor of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Canada. With 408 members of Parliament voting in favour and 254 against (33 abstentions) the 1598-page thick deal can become provisionally effective as early as April. The national parliaments still have to ratify it over the coming months, and possibly years. A Parliament press release is available here. European Parliament vote on CETA today CETA, as with other recent trade deals, goes beyond classical trade agreements. It not only includes provisions for market access, for example to public procurement, and reduces and in many sectors eliminates tariffs, it also establishes an institutional framework to address non-tariff trade barriers. A joint committee is supposed to interpret and develop details of the deal. The regulatory cooperation forum is set to discuss regulatory standards by the parties, present and future. Good Deal or Bad Deal? A passionate debate before the vote today in Strasbourg revealed the degree of division that remains among party groups, but also geographical parts of the Union, about the comprehensive deal. While the members of the conservative party group (European People’s Party, EPP) voting in favour for CETA called it a good deal. “We believe in facts,” said Manfred Weber (EPP), pointing to 14,000 new jobs he said are to be created in the EU as a result of the EU trade deal with South Korea. Better access to goods and services markets in Canada would result in positive effects for the Union where 30 million jobs are dependent on export, he said.correct? Opponents from the Left and Green party groups, as well as from parts of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) group, felt vindicated by the recommendation of the Parliament’s Committee on Labour for a “no” vote. Being the only committee recommending to vote against the deal, it argued CETA falls short with regard to job creation. CETA will not bring more than 0.018 percent more employment for the 28 member countries, but will cause considerable sectoral dislocation, Gregori Pirinski (S&D), rapporteur for the Labour Committee, said. Opponents also castigated imbalances in the deal which in their opinion still favours big, multinational companies and investors, for which, despite reforms in the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) procedures, there still is a “special jurisdiction”. The fight over ISDS was one of the main reason for re-opening the already closed deal once more. Now Canada and the EU are jointly working towards a multilateral International Investment Court System. CETA Not Modern Enough for a Trade Deal? EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström made a fervent appeal that CETA will not only save EU exporters 500 million in tariffs, but also that it is a modern deal including labour, environmental and sustainability standards for the first time. The commissioner, who received applause from most party groups for her willingness to engage in a broader debate about future trade deals and issues like sustainability and fairness in trade, rejected criticism that CETA would bind the hands of public regulators in the EU member states and communes. Malmström called out: “Nothing in this agreement undermines governments’ right to regulate in the public interest.” Also not harmed are safety of food standards, the re-communalization of public services once privatized, or the prerogative of EU lawmakers to set EU rules under EU procedures, she said. Malmström underlined: “In particular: decision making in the CETA Joint Committee cannot circumvent or derogate from EU treaty requirements, in particular the role of EU institutions in making policy.” But many members for the Green and Left party group were not at all convinced. With regard to climate, social rights and financial sector oversight for example, “there are no clear provisions in the agreement,” said Yannick Jadot from the Green Party Group. Jadot also warned with regard to regulatory cooperation: “This is not a trade deal, it is a coup d’etat.” His colleague, Ska Keller, rejected Malmström’s notion about the modern deal: “CETA is not a new agreement, but one of the very old sort,” she said. With regard to transparency, CETA is even worse than the EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), given that for the latter parliament was allowed to see the developing chapters in reading rooms, she said. “We Are the Good Guys” CETA protest Despite the considerable opposition which also was joined by French, Italian and Austrian members of the S&D, in the end the plenary voted in favour, following the recommendation of Latvian rapporteur (EPP), Artis Pabriks, who appealed to his colleagues to support the deal also because of the current political climate. “I would say it is a litmus test for EU politics,” he said. “We are standing at the crossroads.” On one side was protectionism, provincialism and decline, on the other openness, effective decision-making and bringing wealth to the EU nations. “The big picture is that we have Donald Trump, who has cancelled the TPP. And we want to be show that we will build bridges not walls,” said EVP Chair Manfred Weber. But while Weber chastised the Greens and Socialists voting no about partnering with the extreme right, Front National Chair Marine Le Pen was also opposed to the trade deal, Jadot said, saying it was voting in favour for imbalanced trade deals that would drive people into the arms of Trump and other populist parties. Some 3.5 million EU citizens have signed a petition against CETA, a protest march against the deal was ongoing in front of the Parliament while the debate was ongoing and civil rights groups warn that CETA will undermine citizen’s rights. Jadot reminded the house also that CETA had not been negotiated with Justin Trudeau and his government, but with its predecessor, conservative Stephen Harper. Greens, Left Party Group and S&D had argued they wanted to fight for a better deal instead of rushing into CETA now. And while Trump continuously was mentioned as the bad guy – from both sides – with regard to Trudeau’s government, one Finnish member of Parliament said: “You know, Canada is a nice country and Trudeau is a nice guy. But some of the Canadian mining companies are not and this might even be felt in my country.” Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Monika Ermert may be reached at email@example.com."European Parliament Passes CETA After Debate Over Whether It’s A Good Or Bad Deal" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.