European Union working on ratification of free trade agreement with Canada

The European Union’s (EU) Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström said on Monday that the European Commission will soon make a proposal for the ratification of the EU’s trade agreement with Canada (CETA).

According to news reports the EU Commission is planning to push the free trade agreement into effect without giving the bloc’s national parliaments a say in its approval.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker reportedly told EU leaders this week that CETA would fall within the exclusive competence of the EU executive and therefore didn’t need to be ratified by national parliaments in the 28-nation group.

Juncker argued that allowing national parliaments to have a say in the agreement would paralyze the process and put the EU’s credibility at stake. It could take several years for CETA to get through each parliament.

CETA is facing opposition from several European groups and trade unions, who claim the agreement is similar to a planned EU – U.S. deal which they see as a threat to democracy and a power grab by multinational corporations.

The main point of contention for CETA in public opinion is the investor dispute settlement system where corporations can sue governments if they feel their revenues have been affected by laws or regulations.

Canada and the EU revised their original agreement to provide for a permanent system and an appeal process, in order to alleviate European fears of a NAFTA-styled arbitration process, which is opposed by a majority of Europeans.

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