This week the International Trade Committee in the European Parliament voted with a majority in favour of the free trade agreement between Canada and the European Union. The decisive vote in the plenum is expected to take place mid-February.
This week the Committee on International Trade (INTA), which is responsible for CETA, the controversial free trade agreement between Canada and the EU, sat in the European Parliament. The vote on the agreement took place on Tuesday; 25 MEPs voted in favour of CETA, 15 against and one MEP abstained. In doing so, INTA does not follow the recommendation of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL), which came out against CETA.
Final vote in the European Parliament on 15 February
It is expected that the vote on CETA will take place on 15 February in the plenum, hence the entire European Parliament. However, this final vote will only be confirmed on 9 February when the agenda is set; after all, the vote has been postponed twice already. If on 15 February, the European Parliament votes in favour of the Agreement, CETA can be preliminarily applied as early as April. “Preliminarily” - because it is a so-called mixed agreement, which means that it also affects national competencies. Therefore, every single Member State of the EU has to give its approval before the agreement can be fully enforced.
However, to the Chamber of Labour this is not satisfactory, because essential problems of CETA will remain, even after amendments and additional declarations. For example, public services have not been sufficiently exempt from the liberalisation ambitions of the agreement. The planned regulatory cooperation carries the risk of protective standards for the environment, consumers and employees being lowered.
No special rights for investors!
Apart from that - in spite of improvements - a main point of criticism concerns a unilateral instrument only for investors, enabling them to sue states outside normal jurisdiction for vast amounts without imposing any responsibilities on them. AK President Rudi Kaske commented on the matter: “In constitutional democracies such as Austria and Canada, one can rely on the state courts. There is no need to grant investors special rights. “