Canada and the EU - shared values and interests should constitute the basis for a strong partnership and enhanced cooperation

May 8th, 2017 - by Costanza Musu and Patrick LeBlond, University of Ottawa.

At a time when Canadian officials and policymakers are scrambling to make sense of the new U.S. administration’s rhetoric and actions on trade, immigration, and security, Ottawa cannot but view the EU as a relatively more stable and dependable partner. Moreover, EU leaders’ general support for open borders and the existing system of global governance is in line with the vision and priorities of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government.

Canada and the EU have recently signed two important agreements. The first is the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), which should enter into force in summer 2017. The second is the Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA), which sets the principles and objectives of Canadian-EU cooperation for the foreseeable future. A news release by the Office of the Canadian Prime Minister described the SPA in the following terms:

The SPA lays out a strategic direction for stronger future relations and collaboration between Canada, the EU, and its member states at both the bilateral and multilateral level. The SPA will improve cooperation in important areas such as energy, environment and climate change, migration and peaceful pluralism, counter-terrorism and international peace and security, and effective multilateralism.

Continue Reading

European Parliament CETA Ratification – Helped by Trump?

February 15th, 2017 - by Amy Verdun, University of Victoria

Today the European Parliament approved the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). There were 695 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) present of which 408 voted in favour, 254 against and 33 did not vote. It brings the completion of the ratification process another step closer. The agreement enables the Europeans and Canadians to trade more freely with one another as well as other forms of deeper economic cooperation. The ratification of the CETA by the European Parliament was not always a given. Some members of the European Parliament worry about the dispute settlement system that has been created together with this agreement. A new tribunal ‘the Investment Court System’ that has been put in place to deal with investor-state disputes. Critics worry that only investors will benefit from this court but that groups of consumers, environmentalists or workers cannot bring cases to it. These concerns were leading numerous voices in Europe and Canada to be sceptical about the astuteness of ratifying CETA.

It seems that with a change in global stance towards free trade, following the election of Donald Trump and the subsequent trials and tribulations of the first few weeks of the Trump Administration may have put the partnership of the EU and Canadian in a more favourable light. In the past, some MEPs were concerned about whether CETA would be a template for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP – the EU-US trade agreement). The first thing Trump has done, however, upon becoming the 45th president of the US, is to scrap the TTIP. Thus, those who would be worried about large US, litigious enterprises, would not need to be concerned about how CETA might pave the way for TTIP (at least not in the short-run). Furthermore, if the CETA agreement fails, it would make it more difficult for the EU to sign trade agreements with other countries.

Continue Reading

CETA approved by the European Parliament - what next?

February 15, 2017 - by Patrick Leblond, University of Ottawa

Today, the European Parliament approved the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Canada. Once the Canadian parliament has had a chance to have its say on the agreement, which could happen in the coming weeks, CETA will come into effect sometime in the summer. However, only about 90-95% of the agreement will come into effect since CETA will only be applying provisionally in the EU pending ratification by the national parliaments of the EU’s member states, given that CETA is what Europeans call a “mixed agreement” (i.e. It involved both EU-level as well as national-level competencies). CETA's coming into force is good news for the Canadian economy since it will immediately eliminate tariffs on most goods traded between Canada and the EU. Canadian firms will not only be able to export their goods to the EU tariff free but import production inputs at a cheaper price. Another important feature about CETA is that it will also give Canadian firms easier access to the EU’s vast public procurement market. Given the protectionist stance adopted by the Trump administration and the apparent failure of the EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, European firms may see Canada has a good base for doing business in North America, which should help increase investments from Europe into the Canadian economy. Finally, CETA is much more than eliminating tariffs. It is also very much about Canada-EU cooperation to remove so-called “beyond-the-border” barriers to trade and investment that are caused by differing regulations, standards, rules and processes. This collaborative work can only really begin once CETA comes into force. This means that Canadian governments (federal and provincial) and their EU counterparts have a lot of work to do in the coming months and years to reduce, if not remove, these non-tariff barriers (for details on this work, see https://www.cigionline.org/publications/making-most-ceta-complete-and-effective-implementation-key-realizing-agreements-full-0).

Experts on CETA at Universities in Canada

February 6th, 2017

The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) is subject to ratification by the European Parliament (EP) and needs also to be ratified through plenary votes in national parliaments across the EU.  While the majority of academic experts in Canada support ratification, public opposition in Europe and Canada has been pronounced, calling for revisions to the agreement or simply a rejection of the entire deal.

The following EUCAnet experts have regularly contributed to discussions with the public and experts panels. For more see also the experts that signed an Open letter: The European and Canadian public needs a reasoned debate on CETA 

University of Victoria: Valerie D'ErmanAmy VerdunMartha O'BrienEmmanuel Brunet-Jailly

University of British Columbia: Kurt Hübner

University of Calgary: Eugene Beaulieu

University of Ottawa: Patrick LeblondMichael Geist

Carleton University: Crina VijuAchim HurrelmannDavid Long

University of Montreal: Frédéric Mérand

McGill University: Armand de Mestral



December 12, 2016 - by Dr. Valerie D’ErmanPostdoctoral fellow, Department of Political Science, University of Victoria

The signing of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the EU at the end of October does not mean that the ongoing full approval of the trade agreement is without more obstacles. CETA now has to be ratified through plenary votes in both the European Parliament (EP) and national parliaments across the EU. The initial rejection of CETA by Wallonia, a region in Belgium, in October 2016 illustrated both the strong anti-free-trade sentiments present in some parts of the EU, and the multitude of political roadblocks that CETA still has to pass through before reaching the possibility of full ratification and implementation.

Continue Reading