Artis Pabriks (middle) during the Facebook Live session 

Ceta, the EU-Canada trade deal, was approved by the international trade committee on 24 January. The agreement, which would remove tariffs on most traded goods and services, will be put to a final vote by all MEPs next month. Speaking in a Facebook Live interview, Artis Pabriks, the MEP responsible for steering the deal through Parliament, said: “The prime motivation is to ensure more wealth from trade. Ceta is a really good example of how good trade deals should be made.”

Responding to concerns from Parliament's Facebook followers that there is not sufficient transparency surrounding Ceta, Pabriks pointed out that the deal has been available online for the past three years. Addressing fears that it may impinge on national sovereignty, he said: “In Europe we have our constitutions, our laws and our EU treaties. This trade deal is not capable of overruling any of them."

While noting that Ceta would not be a “panacea”, the Latvian member of the EPP group pointed out that small and medium-sized enterprises would actually have the most to gain and that international trade is currently responsible for 14% of EU employment.

Addressing concerns that food which does not meet European standards could flood the EU market, he said: “The fact is that this agreement does not allow a decrease in standards on our continent. The Canadians are likeminded with us Europeans. There are certain areas where EU standards are superior and others where the Canadians are better. This deal is based on the best practices on both sides of the Atlantic, so Canadians will gain, as will we.”

The EU-Canada trade agreement aims to boost trade and investment flows between the EU and the North American country of more than 36 million people. The EU and Canada signed the agreement on 30 October 2016 but the deal must be ratified by the European Parliament before it can come into force. The EU is already Canada’s second most important trading partner and trade between the two parties is expected to rise by more than 20% once Ceta is fully implemented.

Click here to watch the full exchange with Artis Pabriks (EPP, Latvia).