EU Ministers Aim to Iron Out Concerns of Trade Deal With Canada

  • ‘Some concerns remain’ on Canada-Europe trade deal, EU says
  • Bratislava to host meeting of EU trade chiefs on Friday

European Union trade ministers are expected to clear up details to the EU-Canada trade agreement at a meeting on Sept. 23 in Bratislava, Slovakia, the bloc’s executive said.

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem and Canadian Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland “understand that some concerns remain that need to be clarified” in the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, or CETA, between the EU and Canada, Daniel Rosario, European Commission spokesman for trade, told reporters in Brussels on Monday. “This is an exercise that we are committed to engage in with our Canadian partners and are looking forward to the Bratislava meeting this Friday to discuss this with member states,” he said, while adding that “no re-negotiation of the agreement is possible at this stage.”

Trade ministers from the 28 EU nations are scheduled to meet in the Slovak capital on Sept. 23. German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said last week that clarifying the Canada-EU trade pact in response to concerns from labor unions would help the deal get ratified. "I’m sure it would be possible’’ to clarify, Gabriel said.

Meanwhile, protesters gathered in seven German cities on Saturday to oppose the EU-Canada deal as well as the talks on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP, with the U.S. The demonstrators argued that the trade agreements would cost thousands of jobs and lead to lower standards. They also say the deals would favor industrialized agricultural processes over craft-based food production that is not genetically engineered.

Progressive Approach

Malmstroem and Freeland said in a statement on Sunday that CETA is “a progressive agreement” that when implemented “will serve as the basis of an on-going effort amongst like-minded partners to advance a progressive trade policy approach.”

The EU-Canada agreement “is designed in a way that allows the parties to continually improve and update the agreement to strengthen its provisions and reflect new innovations,” Malmstroem and Freeland said.

“We understand that some concerns remain that need to be clarified,” Malmstroem and Freeland said. “Where formal clarifications are needed to allay concerns we are committed to providing these, including confirming our shared views on the delivery of public services, labour rights and environmental protection.”