Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement [CETA]

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Publication Date 21/03/2018
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Further information:

The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) is a free-trade agreement between Canada and the European Union (EU). Its aim is to facilitate the export of goods and services between Canada and the EU by eliminating 98% of tariffs on exported goods.

Negotiations and ratification:

The idea of CETA originated from a joint study by the European Commission and the Government of Canada which was released in October 2008. At the time, specialists on both sides believed that while the EU had been trading together since the Framework Agreement for Commercial and Economic Cooperation of 1976, barriers in certain areas prevented it from reaching its full potential.

It was announced in May 2009 that negotiations would be taking place between Canada and the EU for a potential trade agreement . The first round of negotiations was held in Ottawa in October of the same year. Nine other rounds of negotiations were completed in October 2011. While negotiations were still ongoing, Canada and the EU reached an agreement in principle in October 2013. Negotiations ended in August 2014 and the complete agreement was released in September 2014 at a Canada-EU Summit in Ottawa.

In order to enter into force, the agreement had to comply with both Canadian and EU law. In order to verify this, the draft agreement in principle was reviewed. Such reviews were completed in February 2016. The draft was amended and new provisions were added. In order to be implemented, the agreement was translated into all official EU languages.

The agreement was met with some resistance across the EU. Indeed, Europeans were concerned with certain aspects of the agreement regarding the Investment Court System. While the Commission said that the system ensured 'a high level of protection for investors while fully preserving the right of governments', the main concern raised was that the investment provisions would allow foreign companies to sue governments in special tribunals outside the domestic legal system. Opponents also argued that CETA would allow American companies to make claims against EU policies using Canadian subsidiaries.

Protests took place in many EU member states, which delayed the process. A European Citizen’s Initiative was registered in July 2017 asking the Commission to recommend to the Council of the European Union to repeal the negotiating mandate for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and not to conclude CETA. In September 2016, Belgium requested the opinion of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on whether the dispute resolution system of CETA is compatible with EU law. Because of this, the agreement would not come into force fully until the European Court of Justice (ECJ) gave its (favourable) opinion.

In spite of the protests, the EU and Canada signed CETA on 30 October 2016, following the EU Member States' approval expressed in the Council of the European Union. On 15 February, the European Parliament gave also its consent. Finally, on 16 May 2017, the Canadian side ratified CETA. The agreement entered into force provisionally on September 21, 2017. Nevertheless, all EU Member States needed to ratify the deal according to their respective constitutional requirements before it could be fully implemented.

Related Links
Government of Canada: Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA)
Politico: Topics: CETA
European Commission: CETA [Chapter by Chapter]
European Commission: DG Trade: CETA Explained
European Commission: DG Trade: Trade between Canada and the European Union
Wikipedia: Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement
EurActiv: Topics: CETA

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