For the last time this week, a heated and emotional debate about the Free Trade Agreement between the EU and Canada (CETA) took place in the European Parliament. In the end, only 254 MEPs voted against CETA, 408 in favour and 33 abstained. This means that the much criticised Agreement will enter into force provisionally. It is now on national and regional Parliaments of the Member States because CETA will only be fully effective once the Agreement has been ratified by all Parliaments.
The Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau, who was also invited, welcomed the approval and emphasised that the Agreement is an important signal for a new chapter of multilateral cooperation and for a strong and historically grown partnership between Canada and Europe, based on shared norms and values. Accordingly, it is now all the more important to ensure an implementing of the Agreement, that it has indeed positive effects for all. Trudeau commented that it was his personal wish to have an agreement, which was both “free and fair”. With the exception of the Austrian People's Party ÖVP delegation and the NEOS (The New Austria), all Austrian MEPs voted against the Free Trade Agreement.
As AK President Kaske pointed out, key criticism of the Chamber of Labour still remain unresolved. Above all, the Agreement is lacking transparency. Arbitration courts, even though they have been reformed and are now taking a different shape, still grant investors privileged rights as compared to states and civil society. Also, the Agreement fails to sufficiently incorporate labour and social standards as well as consumer and environmental standards.