By SIMON OSBORNE AND MONIKA PALLENBERG
September 21, 2016
The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) will eliminate 98 of trade tariffs between Canada and EU countries if it is finally accepted next month.
But critics of CETA fear it is stacked to heavily in Canada’s favour and could harm social standards across the EU.
Canada’s Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland is in the Austria capital Vienna pressing for the agreement to be signed before the end of October.
She said: “Let me be very clear in this regard: We will not renegotiate the Ceta Treaty. That would be like opening Pandora’s box.
“Nevertheless, we will find a solution that is mutually satisfactory for the protection of public services, for example.
“We have very similar views and share the same values – which isn’t the case for all of our trading partners by the way.
“The Canadian society thinks it is important that there are effective public services.”
CETA negotiations were concluded in August 2014 with the agreement to be approved by the Council of the European Union, the European Parliament and all EU member states.
One diplomat in Brussels, who is in favour of completing CETA by the end of the year, said it would have “a disastrous effect on the credibility of the EU’s trade policies” if CETA fell through.
He added: “No one would ever again engage in years of negotiations with us to see it all go south the last minute.”
Ms Freeland said: “As soon as I came into office, I let a team investigate how we can advance our trade policy. They found the solution in CETA, therefore we have in fact reformed investment protection with the EU.
“We can go on as before. That would not be good enough, neither for me personally, nor for Canada.”
She continued: “You can think the agreements are completely wrong, cancel them and build walls: that is what the right in most industrialised countries want.
“If now even the progressive forces think only the perfect solution is acceptable – what can we concretely offer to the people who want to build walls as an alternative?
“We Canadians want more advanced solutions for open societies now, with the Europeans or with other partners.”
Germany’s Social Democrats have finally given their backing the trade deal paving the way for the bloc to give its approval.