Prime Minister Justin Trudeau marked the European Parliament’s passing of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) early today, hailing it as a potential model for future trade deals while addressing the concerns of those who opposed it.
“We can’t understate how important it was to get this deal right,” Trudeau told members of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France — the first time a sitting Canadian prime minister has addressed the legislature.
“Now we need to make it work … If we are successful, CETA will become the blueprint for all ambitious, future trade deals. If we are not, this could very well be one of the last,” he said.
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The deal came together in the face of an increasingly hostile, populist opposition that now includes the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump.
Trump’s ambassador designate to the EU, Ted Malloch, said earlier this week that the EU’s “blatant anti-Americanism” is “problematic.”
In his speech, Trudeau said people who complain that trade deals benefit only a few have a valid concern, but deals like the Canada-EU free trade pact are good for all.
“The anxiety people have towards the economy and trade — the worry that our kids won’t have access to the same jobs and opportunities that we had — can be addressed only if we ensure that trade is inclusive, so that everyone benefits,” he said.
“And this agreement … delivers just that.”
Trudeau will next travel to Berlin to meet with German President Joachim Gauck. Trudeau will also visit the Reichstag and the German Holocaust Memorial.
The prime minister will have a working lunch with German Chancellor Angela Merkel before flying to Hamburg, where he will be the guest of honour at the St. Matthias Day dinner.
Celebrating free trade
On Wednesday, European Parliament members approved CETA with 58 per cent of members voting to adopt it.
Most of the members representing Europe’s centrist parties voted in favour of the deal, with opposition from members representing left-leaning socialist and Green as well as right-wing, nationalist parties.
Of the 695 members present in the 751-seat legislature, 408 voted in favour, 254 against and 33 abstained.
The House of Commons passed C-30, Canada’s implementation legislation, at third reading Tuesday.
Both Liberals and Conservatives — who were in power when the deal was negotiated — supported the bill. The NDP, Bloc Québécois and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May voted against.
Once C-30 clears the Senate, federal laws and regulations will change to bring Canada into compliance.
Similar changes need to be made at the provincial and territorial level.
Once Canada finishes this, over 90 per cent of the agreement may come into force provisionally. A release from the EU suggested this could be the case as early as April 1.