Plenary speech on the EU-Canada free trade agreement (CETA)

On 16 September, Marietje Schaake spoke in the plenary meeting about the EU-Canada free trade agreement (CETA). Marietje Schaake (ALDE). Mr President, after five years of intense negotiations, reaching accord on the EU-Canada agreement is no small achievement. Congratulations on the results for Europe, but also for Canada. I hope this can be a true win-win. In all the complexities and controversies, we should not forget why we engage in trade negotiations at all. Our goals are clear: we seek economic growth and the creation of jobs for Europeans, especially as Russia has reacted to the much-needed EU sanctions for its aggression in our Eastern Neighbourhood. The best way we can alleviate the impact of the damage to European businesses and farmers is by facilitating exports and market access elsewhere in the world. Market access through procurement is an important accomplishment in the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and, by and large, the standards in relation to the planet, privacy and food safety have not been traded away. That is important. More controversial, however, is the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism. EU Member States have no less than 1400 bilateral agreements that include ISDS, and while the mechanism was sought after by Europeans investing in countries where the rule of law does not exist, it is now leading to controversy. In the CETA, I see that some improvements have been realised, such as the inclusion of provisions to increase the impartiality of arbitration judges and to provide more transparency and better protection against frivolous cases, but still the key question of whether or not we need ISDS between two mature democracies with the rule of law should be answered. This question is relevant not only for the CETA: many of us look at the text of this agreement with the anticipation of finding clues for the much more impactful    currently in negotiation. I look forward to learning more about the results of the public consultation, to which an unprecedented number of citizens and stakeholders replied. Even though the text of the CETA cannot now be changed, Commissioner, I urge the Commission to ensure that Europeans can engage actively and transparently with you to obtain clarification before having to give their votes.