Document stages in plenary
Document selected : B8-0143/2017

Texts tabled :


Debates :

PV 15/02/2017 - 4
CRE 15/02/2017 - 4

Votes :

PV 15/02/2017 - 7.2

Texts adopted :

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to wind up the debate on the statement by the Commission

pursuant to Rule 123(2) of the Rules of Procedure

on the conclusion of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada, of the one part, and the European Union and its Member States, of the other part (2017/2525(RSP))

Gianni Pittella, Sorin Moisă on behalf of the S&D Group

European Parliament resolution on the conclusion of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada, of the one part, and the European Union and its Member States, of the other part (2017/2525(RSP))  

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the proposed agreement between Canada and the European Union on a Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA),

–  having regard to the proposal for a Council decision on the conclusion of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada of the one part, and the European Union and its Member States, of the other part,

–  having regard to the joint declaration of the 16th EU-Canada summit of 30 October 2016,

–  having regard to the Joint Interpretative Instrument on the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union and its Member States of 27 October 2016,

–  having regard to the 38 statements to be entered in the Council minutes of 27 October 2016,

–  having regard to its resolution of 8 June 2011 on EU-Canada trade relations(1),

–  having regard to the final report of the sustainability impact assessment relating to the CETA negotiations of June 2011,

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘Trade for all – Towards a more responsible trade and investment policy’ (COM(2015)0497),

–  having regard to its resolution of 28 June 2016 on a new forward-looking and innovative future strategy for trade and investment(2),

–  having regard to its resolution of 8 July 2015 on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership(3),

–  having regard to its resolution of 25 November 2010 on human rights and social and environmental standards in international trade agreements(4),

–  having regard to its resolution of 25 November 2010 on corporate social responsibility in international trade agreements(5),

–  having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), in particular Articles 207(3), 218 and 168 thereto and 191 thereto relating to the precautionary principle,

–  having regard to Rule 123(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas EU-Canada negotiations for a Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) were concluded in October 2014 after seven years of negotiations, with the final signature taking place on 30 October 2016;

B.  whereas CETA represents the EU’s first comprehensive economic agreement with a highly industrialised Western economy, presenting EU exporters with new export opportunities which could promote EU jobs and growth; whereas there could be a risk that certain sensitive sectors could be negatively affected;

C.  whereas the EU and Canada are like-minded partners that share the same fundamental values, including respect for human dignity, liberty, democracy, equality, the rule of law, respect for human rights, and protection of health and safety and the environment, as well as cultural and linguistic diversity and media freedom and pluralism, all of which are stated in the preamble of CETA;

D.  whereas CETA will provide for the elimination of tariffs for 98.6 % of all Canadian tariff lines and 98.7 % of EU tariff lines, with industrial tariffs being 100 % dismantled; whereas Canada will eliminate 90.9 % of agricultural tariff lines after CETA’s entry into force and the EU will eliminate 93.8 %, with some sensitive products being included through tariff-rate quotas (TRQs) or excluded all together, and with the EU enlarging its import quotas for pork and hormone-free beef; whereas CETA will be the first time Canadian provinces will open procurement markets to foreign bidders, all presenting increased opportunities for the EU; whereas CETA permits the use of environmental and labour criteria in public procurement contracts;

E.  whereas CETA will improve labour mobility by making it easier for companies to move staff temporarily between the EU and Canada and by fostering mutual recognition agreements that allow qualified professionals to work in both the EU and Canada;

F.  whereas sustained criticism and public scepticism towards the method of trade negotiations has led to new increased levels of transparency in other EU trade agreements, with better access to documents, regular reporting on negotiations and improved communications; whereas further improvements should still be made; whereas the CETA negotiations have shown that trade agreements can no longer be negotiated behind closed doors;

G.  whereas both the Canadian and the European Parliament have actively monitored and shaped negotiations on a regular basis and voiced ideas and concerns throughout the process based on feedback and engagement with citizens, trades unions, SMEs and other civil society groups;

H.  whereas civil society organisations will be involved in the discussions on the sustainable development aspects of the agreement through the CETA Civil Society Forum, and whereas the composition of civil society forums must always promote a balanced representation of the relevant stakeholders and other interested parties; whereas CETA is one of the first EU trade agreements that includes an obligation for each party to consider submissions from the public on sustainable development issues related to CETA;

I.  whereas free and fair trade are significant contributors to prosperity and may be used as instruments to promote an agenda of social justice and sustainable development both in the EU and throughout the world; whereas CETA could present an opportunity for the EU and its Member States to further promote common high EU standards notably in the areas of labour rights, environmental protection, consumer rights and public welfare in their trade agreements; whereas however, a sanctions-based mechanism to redress infringements has not been included in CETA, but both parties have agreed to address this through an early review;

J.  whereas free trade as an essential element of globalisation has been at the centre of public debate, with civil society raising concerns about the possible negative impacts of CETA on consumers and that most benefits could go to corporations; whereas different studies using different methodologies show divergent results regarding the impact of job creation from CETA; whereas in the EU the effectiveness of existing tools which can help workers who lose their jobs as a result of globalisation adapt to new opportunities and changes, including from bilateral trade agreements such as CETA, must be further improved and complemented with additional mechanisms seeking to anticipate negative impacts;

K.  whereas CETA preserves the ability of the EU and its Member States to adopt and apply their own laws and regulations to achieve legitimate public policy objectives such as the protection and promotion of public health, social services, education, safety, the environment, public morals, social or consumer protection, privacy, data protection and the promotion of cultural diversity; whereas the EU and Canada have paid particular attention to ensuring that the CETA text and the Joint Interpretative Instrument explicitly reflect their common understanding that governments and parliaments should not be and will not be prevented from pursuing legitimate public policies;

L.  whereas CETA recognises the rights of Members States at all levels to define and provide public services in areas such as national health services, education, social services, housing and water provision; whereas the EU and its Member States reserve the right to adopt or change any measure to such services which receive public funding or any form of public support; whereas Parliament has already taken the view, in its resolution of 8 June 2011, that the use of a ‘negative list approach’ in CETA should be seen as an exception and not serve as a precedent for future trade negotiations; whereas the WTO General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) is based on a positive list approach;

M.  whereas there have been persistent doubts about the necessity of an investment dispute mechanism between two mature democracies; whereas CETA had originally contained an ad hoc private arbitration system (the so-called investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism), which drew huge public criticism for not achieving the right balance between protecting investors and safeguarding the EU’s and Member States’ right and ability to regulate in the public interest, and for its lack of transparency and guarantees about the impartiality and professional competence of arbiters;

N.  whereas, following a leading role by the S&D group in the European Parliament, civil society and public concerns about ISDS, Parliament demanded that it be dropped, resulting in the Commission proposing that it be replaced by an Investment Court System (ICS) in September 2015; whereas ICS in CETA represents a major step forward in the way investment disputes are solved, by ensuring the establishment of a permanent tribunal with judges randomly allocated for each case, a permanent appellate tribunal, strict rules on conflicts of interest and a code of conduct enforceable by the President of the International Court of Justice; whereas further elements of ICS need to be improved as soon as possible before the final notification on the entry into force of CETA is given in accordance with Article 30.7(2), such as further improvements including the nomination of judges and their remuneration, a complete set of rules of ethical conduct and the sanction mechanism in the event of non-compliance with those rules;

O.  whereas CETA has improved some substantive provisions on investment protection; whereas enhanced provisions related to transparency provide adequate guarantees that disputes will no longer be solved ‘behind closed doors’; whereas the reformed investment protection provisions, as well as ICS, as included in CETA, will replace the eight existing bilateral investment treaties between Member States and Canada, which have raised concerns in the past in terms of lack of transparency and sufficient safeguards for government’s right to regulate and which include the toxic ISDS system;

P.  whereas explicit recognition of the right to regulate, originally present only in the preamble of CETA, was introduced in the final text with the intention to avoid the risk of so-called ‘regulatory chill’, whereby governments feel prevented from pursuing legitimate public policy measures and from regulating in order to achieve legitimate public policy objectives in areas such as public health, safety, the environment, public morals, social and consumer protection and the promotion of cultural diversity;

Q.  whereas the Belgian national government has committed to having ICS assessed by the European Court of Justice to check its compatibility with EU law;

R.  whereas the Commission is expected to formally request a mandate to start negotiations on the multilateral investment court before the end of 2017; whereas national parliaments will take this into account when assessing CETA in the national parliaments in the coming years; whereas the European Parliament must play a central role in establishing the EU position throughout these negotiations;

S.  whereas the EU and Canada have affirmed in CETA their common objective of pursuing, together with other trade partners, the establishment of a multilateral investment tribunal and appellate mechanism; whereas the EU and Canada met in Geneva on 13 December 2016, with representatives of third countries, in order to jointly propose the establishment of a single permanent, multilateral body to rule on investment disputes, thus moving further away from the ad hoc system of investor-state dispute settlement which is currently included in around 3 200 investment treaties in force today; whereas this should also include exploring the possibility for other actors to use the multilateral body to sue investors;

T.  whereas Canada has committed to making continued and sustained efforts to ratifying and implementing all International Labour Organisation (ILO) core conventions, having ratified three ILO conventions during the CETA negotiation process; whereas Canada has launched, but has not yet completed, an internal process to ratify Convention 98 on the right to organise and collective bargaining;

U.  whereas 145 European geographical indications (GIs) which were until now largely unprotected will be protected on the Canadian market, with the possibility of increasing this further to cover new GIs, in order to protect some of the EU’s most renowned products, boost opportunities for SMEs and uphold consumer protection; whereas CETA does not imply any change to EU legislation with regard to risk assessment and authorisation, labelling and traceability of genetically modified food; whereas the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or chemical treatments remains controversial in the EU;

V.  whereas the CETA Joint Committee, co-chaired by the Canadian Minister for International Trade and the EU Trade Commissioner, will assemble representatives from both partners to ‘supervise and facilitate the implementation and application’ of the agreement and oversee ‘the work of specialised committees and other bodies established under CETA’; whereas its decisions must not require or imply an obligation for the EU institutions to adopt or modify EU law; whereas the prerogatives of the European Parliament under the EU Treaties must be fully observed; whereas Parliament must have adequate opportunities to scrutinise the implementation of CETA, and notably the decisions of the Joint Committee;

1.  Believes that EU trade policy must contribute to creating decent jobs, sustainable development, upholding EU standards, safeguarding public services and respecting democratic procedures while boosting EU export opportunities; considers the objectives of CETA as a basis for developing a progressive global trade agenda based on EU and Canadian shared values, including protecting human rights and high standards of protection for consumers, workers and the environment; highlights that Canada and the EU have agreed not to weaken or reduce the levels of protection of labour or the environment in order to encourage trade or attract investment;

2.  Regrets that the text of CETA is not clear in that existing public services and any such services that may emerge in the future are not governed by the provisions of CETA; welcomes, however, the commitments given by all parties that the EU and the governments of its Member States, at all levels, retain the right to define, provide and regulate public services, including in the areas of health, education, social services, housing and provision of water; recalls that CETA does not require governments to privatise any service, nor prevent them from bringing back under public ownership, administration or any other form of control, services which had previously been privatised; believes, as a principle, that the use of a positive list approach as per the GATS is always preferable;

3.  Notes the commitment to trade and sustainable development in CETA, including commitments to achieving the highest levels of protection of workers’ rights and the environment; regrets that a sanction-based mechanism has not been included in CETA; expects, however, CETA to deliver tangible positive results in order to maximise benefits for workers and the environment; consequently calls on both parties to agree by mid-2017 to a proposal for enhancing the effective enforceability of CETA provisions on trade, labour and the environment, notably by introducing an appropriate sanctions mechanism; underlines the utmost importance that stakeholders, including trades unions, labour organisations and environmental groups, must have in assessing and reviewing the implementation of CETA, notably through the civil society forum and domestic advisory groups; stresses that assessing and reviewing labour and environmental standards should not be limited to the chapters which specifically deal with these issues, but should horizontally address these areas and other areas of the agreement, such as investment, trade in services, regulatory cooperation and public procurement on labour and environmental standards; calls on the Member States to fully support such reforms of the trade and sustainable development provisions;

4.  Notes that Canada is advancing in the process of ratifying ILO Convention 98 on the right to organise and collective bargaining; recognises that the major principles of this convention are already enshrined in Canadian labour laws; expects the convention, however, to be ratified in its entirety as soon as possible and calls on the Council not to send the final notification of CETA’s entry into force, in accordance with Article 30.7(2), until Canada has completed the ratification procedure for Convention 98;

5.  Takes note of the fact that the EU ‘precautionary principle’ as set out in the EU Treaties will continue to apply, safeguarding the right of the EU and the Member States to apply their fundamental principles regarding regulatory activities; attaches the utmost importance to the Commission’s Declaration in respect of the protection of precautionary principle in CETA (statement 7 of the statements to be entered in the Council minutes), and in particular the statement that ‘nothing in CETA prevents the application of the precautionary principle in the European Union as set out in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union’; firmly underlines that all imports from Canada into the EU must respect all EU standards; notes that regulatory cooperation in CETA may be undertaken on a voluntary basis; underlines that any cooperation should not undermine the internal legislative process in the EU, including appropriate consultations of EU stakeholders, nor affect in any way the prerogatives of Parliament under the EU Treaties;

6.  Recalls that CETA contains definitions of investment protection standards and an explicit reference to the right of governments to regulate in order to achieve legitimate policy objectives, in areas such as the protection of public health and safety, the environment or public morals, social or consumer protection or the promotion and protection of cultural diversity; recalls the explicit recognition by the parties to CETA of the fact that, if a party regulates in a manner that negatively affects an investment or interferes with an investor’s expectations of profits, this does not amount to a breach of investment protection standards and hence does not require any compensation; acknowledges, however, that the risk of ‘regulatory chill’ is not completely eliminated in CETA; calls on the Commission to make full use of the binding interpretations of investment protection standards if necessary, to ensure that the interpretation reflects the intention of the EU and Canada, as stated in the Joint Interpretative Instrument, that CETA will not result in foreign investors being treated more favourably than domestic investors;

7.  Demands that the European Parliament be fully involved in all stages of the establishment and future reviews of the ICS, including in the nomination of judges for the tribunal and appellate tribunal and, among other things, in ensuring their independence and competence, as well as overseeing organisational aspects such as remuneration of judges; demands that the Commission and the Council ensure that Parliament is involved in defining the detailed rules of conduct applicable to candidates for appointment as members of the tribunal or the appellate tribunal and the sanction mechanism in the event of non-compliance with the rules of conduct in order to ensure full respect for independence of their judicial power; regrets that the establishment of the ICS, including all the issues mentioned above, have not been finalised before presenting the CETA text to the European Parliament for consent; calls on the Member States to fully support the course of action related to the ICS implementation;

8.  Notes the Belgian national government’s commitment to refer to the European Court of Justice in order to check the compatibility of the ICS system with EU law; calls for Parliament to submit written observations, on the basis of Rule 141(4) of the Rules of Procedure, on this future court case;

9.  Strongly welcomes the fact that Canada has fully embraced the objective of reaching a multilateral solution to investment protection and has become a close partner of the EU in actively contributing to its realisation, the aim of which is to overcome incoherence and the fragmentation of thousands of different international investment agreements currently in force globally; considers the new ICS mutually agreed upon in CETA as a stepping-stone towards that goal, and urges that the period until the agreement’s full entry into force during which the new system will not be provisionally applied be used to put in place all measures needed to definitively safeguard the independence of the publicly appointed judges and ensure adequate rules on ethics;

10.  Calls on the Commission to regularly update Parliament on the provisional application of CETA by publicly presenting, every year, a detailed implementation report to ensure that CETA delivers on the creation of decent jobs, the promotion of labour rights and the protection of the environment; reiterates its call for the Commission to establish specific indicators in order to ensure the monitoring of the implementation of agreements such as CETA and its effects on the performance of different EU industries and sectors regarding their market share;

11.  Notes that CETA includes some sensitive agricultural sectors, such as beef and pork through TRQs; recalls that the Commission’s study on the ‘Cumulative economic impact of future trade agreements on EU agriculture’ pointed out the extreme sensitivity of these products and the need to protect them; expects EU trade policy to pay the utmost attention to the sensitivities of local producers and family farming;

12.  Recalls that many developing countries benefit from tariff preferences from the EU and Canada; calls on the Commission therefore to closely monitor and report regularly to Parliament on the effects that CETA may have on developing countries, in particular with regard to possible preference erosion, trade diversion and their attainment of the sustainable development goals; calls on the Commission to support initiatives to foster developing countries’ inclusion in global value chains and opportunities brought about through CETA, using the relevant development instruments such as Aid for Trade;

13.  Commends the EU and Canada’s joint commitment to cooperating and taking a lead on trade-related environmental issues under CETA, most notably on the implementation of the Paris Agreement; calls on the Commission to use the review mechanism to further clarify concrete ways to cooperate under the framework of CETA, notably in relation to greenhouse gas emission targets, including through the use of a sanctions-based mechanism;

14.  Believes that key transparency standards with regard to tax arrangements should be binding and guide EU trade policy and trade agreements; calls on the Commission to include in all trade and partnership agreements good governance clauses referring in particular to compliance with the relevant Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) recommendations pertaining to the field of taxation (e.g. the BEPS initiative) and ensuring that trade and partnership agreements cannot be misused by companies or intermediaries to avoid or evade taxes or launder revenues from illegal activities;

15.  Demands that the upcoming interinstitutional agreement on international negotiations grant Parliament full powers to scrutinise the implementation of CETA, notably through the decision of the Joint Committee;

16.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the federal government and parliament and the provincial and territorial governments and parliaments of Canada.


OJ C 380E , 11.12.2012, p. 20.


Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0299.


Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0252.


OJ C 99E , 3.4.2012, p. 31.


OJ C 99E , 3.4.2012, p. 101.

Last updated: 9 February 2017Legal notice