05 July 2016

Looks Like the EU Just Threw a Roadblock in Front of CETA

The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada now must be approved by individual parliaments, and not the European Council and European Parliament:
The European Commission performed a startling U-turn on its landmark trade agreement with Canada on Tuesday, succumbing to pressure from France and Germany by deciding that national parliaments would have to ratify the deal.

The need for approval from almost 40 national and regional assemblies not only threatens to scupper the Canadian deal itself, but delivers an ominous signal to British politicians who insist that the U.K. could negotiate a quick post-Brexit trade accord with the EU.

Speaking in Strasbourg, Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said the EU had decided to call the Canada deal a “mixed agreement.” This means that the bloc’s most significant trade deal to date is now hostage to hostile lawmakers in parliaments ranging from Romania to the Belgian region of Wallonia.
I think that this development is being driven by two things:
  • Concern that the British Brexit vote is spreading to other EU members, particularly on the periphery.
  • Setting a precedent of allowing every member of the EU to have a potential veto over the conditions over which the UK would negotiate its leaving the EU.
I think that this also means that the trade deal, which is a kind of mini-TTIP will not happen in the next 12 months or so, if at all:
The decision, taken during a meeting of the EU’s commissioners in Strasbourg, represented a surprising volte-face because the Commission had hoped to treat the accord as an EU-only deal, meaning it would require approval only from the European Parliament and national governments in the Council.

The Canadian deal has stoked sensitivities across Europe primarily because it is seen as a precursor to the far more contentious Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the U.S.

Matthias Fekl, France’s trade minister, said it was “unbelievable” that Brussels had been planning to treat the deal as an exclusively EU competence.

“I find it even more hallucinatory only a few days after the result of the British referendum that one could envisage this type of procedure at the level of the European Commission,” he told the news agency AFP in an interview.

The tortuous path to approve the deal will sound alarms in London, where politicians are pinning their hopes on a quick settlement with the EU after Brexit. Debates in national parliaments could potentially add years of delay to the Canadian accord, which has already taken seven years to finalize.
It isn't often that you get a diplomat using the adjective hallucinatory.

This also does not bode well for the TTIP.

Considering the impacts of such trade deals, inflated pharmaceutical prices, destructive capital flows, increased financialization of economies, etc.  This is a good thing.


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