Monday, 31 October 2016

Trade agreement signed with Canada

Well done to plucky Belgium for wresting a concession over dispute resolution out of Canada, and thanks to the recently-installed Liberal government in the dominion for acceding to it. It is not an absolute guarantee that the quasi-judicial procedure will be open and transparent, but given the record of the European Court of Justice that will almost certainly be the practical result. One wonders how keen the Canadian Conservatives, under whom the CETA negotiations began, would have been. (It is noteworthy that our Conservative masters were quite happy to wave the treaty through without even bringing it to the attention of our parliament.) Anyway, the treaty has now been signed.

Another key feature is that it maintains Europe's high food protection standards, which has been a major sticking point in the TTIP negotiations. As the EU's helpful FAQ page puts it:

CETA will not affect EU rules on food safety or the environment. As now, Canadian products will only be able to be imported to and sold in the EU if they fully respect our regulations. For example, CETA does not affect EU restrictions on beef containing growth hormones or GMOs.

Nor will CETA restrict either the EU or Canada from passing new laws in areas of public interest such as the environment, and health and safety.

CETA provides the basis for a future dialogue between the EU and Canada on policy developments. Both sides will share information about best practices. This does not affect our scope for developing new laws in response to the needs and priorities of European citizens.

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