Member of the European Parliament, Marietje Schaake (ALDE/D66) says the failure of talks with Wallonia on the trade agreement is an embarrassment for the EU. CETA was supposed to be signed at an EU-Canada summit this Thursday by EU leaders and prime minister Trudeau. Schaake: “It is unbelievable that national politics is breaking down EU trade policy. We are witnessing shameful political opportunism, when the Walloon Socialists were part of the government, they gave the green light for negotiations. CETA is a good agreement, and working together with Canada is crucial for our global role. Together we can work on higher standards as a basis for rules-based trade. No other country will take us seriously if we cannot even close a deal with Canada. In that light, the Walloon position is really incomprehensible.”
Moment of truth
This is the moment of truth for the national governments. Schaake: “If they do not want to defend trade at the European level and the treaty of Lisbon, they will also undermine the internal market. Negotiating with third countries as a bloc gives us a stronger position. If member states will not take a stand for that, they must accept the consequences of a weak Europe. The EU will no longer be able to make international agreements, while other countries will. This will weaken our competitiveness. If trade agreements are done by member states individually, it will become clear what a race to the bottom really looks like. That must be prevented.”
The goal of CETA is to allow Canada and the EU to cooperate on raising global standards and strengthening the rules based system. Schaake: “Rising economies like China and the Gulf States have completely different ideas about consumer protection, animal welfare or the environment. By working with Canada, we can raise the bar and set our standards in the treaty text. CETA is the only way in which we can modernise and reform the controversial investment protection system. Member States have 1300 of those clauses and they must be amended. CETA is a vital step towards a transparent, fair and legitimate international court. Those who say ‘no’, including the Walloon government, have no solutions for the existing ISDS mechanisms."