The EU’s free-trade agreement with Canada (CETA) is set to be adopted in the Council of the European Union and then signed at the EU-Canada summit on 28 October. Following the approval of the SPD party convention, the German Bundestag has called on the German government to approve the agreement and its provisional application in the Council.
Provisional application: yes, but
In line with usual practice, the Bundestag underlines that the agreement may only be applied provisionally following a positive vote by the European Parliament. Furthermore, the provisional application must not apply for those parts of the agreement which encompass the competence of EU Member States. In any event, investment protection must be excluded from the provisional application.
Approval with reservations
The SPD made its approval in the course of the parliamentary process dependent on improvements and clarifications to CETA: the protection of services of general interest provided by local communities should be made more concrete and legally certain. In the framework of investment protection, the SPD asks that vague legal concepts should be specified and that improved provisions on the independence of judges should be developed. In the area of labor standards, it should be ensured that the obligations arising from CETA can be implemented effectively. Overall, the consultation and ratification process should be transparently structured and should involve civil society.
It is welcome that the clarifications demanded are to be made in the form of legally binding declarations without the need to renegotiate the agreement itself.
Opportunities for businesses and jobs
From the perspective of German business, better access to Canada – the tenth largest market in the world – brings opportunities for our companies. The dismantling of industrial customs duties, the ability to compete for public contracts in Canada and better mobility for employees could give trade a perceptible boost. At the same time, CETA has successfully enshrined modern standards in areas such as sustainability and investment protection, thereby making a contribution to global rule-making. In so doing, CETA also highlights the ability of Europe to help shape trade policy on the international stage.