The trade deal between Canada and the EU is the latest trade agreement to attract controversy. Negotiations for the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) have been concluded, but it willstill need to be approved by the European Parliament, the Council and the national parliaments. On 31 August the international trade committee discussed the agreement and afterwards we talked to Latvian EPP member Artis Pabriks, who is responsible for steering the agreement through Parliament.
Why do we need CETA ? How will it really benefit Europeans and what would be the pitfalls ?
CETA, a trade agreement between Canada and the European Union, is very comprehensive and a highly modern agreement. It sets an example for future trade agreements and is based on an understanding between two partners sharing many values. If you are looking for the closest partner outside the US, then Canada is the first country that comes to mind.
It has clear economic benefits. They are relatively huge because the EU’s wealth is very much linked to trade and the possibility to trade. It would create more jobs and especially assist small and medium-sized enterprises, which form the backbone of the economy.
Many people fear CETA would give companies too much power to overturn decisions by democratically-elected governments. Will the proposed Investment Court System be enough to prevent this?
I believe it will be more than enough. We know there has been unease about investment and big corporations’ influence but we know from history that even with not very advanced trade treaties states were not toothless against big corporations.
In the case of CETA, governments are in a very strong position. We need to adopt this modern version because it will set an example for many others. If we do not adopt this, then we will still be questioning this issue for many years. The Canadian-European treaty is the one that can solve this issue also globally.
National parliaments will also get to vote on CETA. Wouldn’t this make it much more difficult to conclude international trade agreements?
There is an old saying in Latvia: “Double doesn’t break”. Getting the national parliaments involved increases the bureaucratic burden, but at the same time we live in a democratic world and if people want to have a double-check, let’s do it. I would personally be able to convince our Latvian voters that it’s enough with the European Parliament.