Negotiated for nearly five years and four months, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Canada is now ready for the final vote by the European Parliament. After MEPs backed it on Wednesday 15 February, the agreement could already provisionally apply from April. In 2015 EU-Canada trade accounted for more than €60 billion and Ceta is expected to boost this by 20%. Read on and watch our video to find out more about the difference the trade deal could make.
Ceta would remove all tariffs between the EU and Canada, except those charged on public services, audiovisual and transport services and a few agricultural products. It would also lead to the mutual recognition of certifications for a wide range of products, from electrical goods to toys.
If Canada were in the EU, it would rank seventh in terms of population and fifth in terms of gross domestic product. Concerning gross domestic product per capita, it would rank between Denmark and Belgium.
Who would benefit from Ceta?
Opening markets could lead to more choice and lower prices.
It would become easier for certain EU professionals to supply legal, accounting, engineering, architectural or similar services in Canada. Ceta provides a framework for the EU and Canada to recognise each other's qualifications in such professions. It would also make it easier for firms to temporarily move staff to the other side of the Atlantic.
By simplifying procedures it would become easier for European companies to expand in the Canadian market. Under Ceta Canada would open up its government tenders to EU firms more than with any of its other trading partners, both at federal and municipal levels.
Canada would also commit to making its tendering process more transparent by publishing all of its public tenders on a single procurement website. Currently lack of access to information is one of the biggest obstacles for smaller companies in overseas markets.
Protecting EU products
Although the EU would be able to export nearly 92% of its agricultural and food products duty free, this would not come at the expense of protection for European products. Canada has agreed to protect 143 European products that are associated with a specific town or region and that enjoy a great reputation because of their qualities, This includes products such as feta from Greece and roquefort from France.
All imports from Canada would still have to meet EU rules and regulations. Ceta would not lower or change EU health and safety, environment and social or consumers rights standards. It wouldn't change how the EU regulates food safety, including on GMO products or the ban on hormone-treated beef.
Ceta doesn't cover public services, so EU countries would be able to keep public monopolies and continue to decide which services (such as water supply, health and education) they want to keep public and which ones they want to privatise.
New investor protection mechanism
In response to pressure from the European Parliament, the controversial investor-state-dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism -considered a private system based on companies’ choices- was replaced by the Investment Court System (ICS), which aims to ensure government control over the choice of arbitrators.
The new Investment Court System would be public, not based on temporary tribunals and have professional and independent judges appointed by the EU and Canada.
The text agreement with Canada has been integrally available online for over the past two years ever since the negotiations were concluded in Ottawa on 26 September 2014.
As it is a mixed agreement, it will not only need to be approved by the European Parliament, but also by national and regional parliaments.
- Canada ranked 12th among the EU’s trading partners in 2015
- The EU was Canada’s second most important trading partner after the US in 2015
- €28.3 billion of EU imports vs €35.2 billion of exports
- Canada was the 4th most important investment destination for EU companies (€274.7 billion)