EU-Canada trade deal on winding road to ratification

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Politico | 13 April 2017

EU-Canada trade deal on winding road to ratification

By Florian Wicki

Even though the EU’s landmark trade deal with Canada has been approved by the European Parliament and should take effect provisionally in July, some of the toughest hurdles for its final ratification still lie ahead.

Because it was declared a “mixed” trade accord, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement must pass muster with 38 national and regional parliaments across the EU before it is fully approved — and each of these parliaments has the right to stop the treaty.

“A little reminder: Wallonia will not ratify CETA as long as all the conditions that we set haven’t been met,” Wallonian Prime Minister Paul Magnette said in February.

Some of the 38 parliaments are already pushing ahead with ratification. Latvia’s Saeima was the first to give its green light to the treaty in February, and others intend to follow soon.

POLITICO reached out to the remaining 37 chambers to find out: Are they already on track? Who are the frontrunners? Who’s trailing behind?

Click here to see the interactive graphics.

Even if CETA passes those ratification hurdles, the treaty won’t be entirely in the bag. In 13 of the 28 EU countries, opponents can launch a referendum to challenge the ratification. Although those referenda are non-binding, they can still put immense pressure on governments to make additional requirements or reconsider their position.

This became evident last year when the Dutch voted against the ratification of the EU-Ukraine trade agreement, forcing the government to embark on long negotiations with other EU countries and Ukraine to reassure voters that the deal is no precursor to EU membership — a fear expressed by opponents of the deal during the referendum campaign.

The concern is that opponents of the Canada agreement, such as well-funded German NGOs, will turn the deal’s controversial Investment Court System into the bogeyman of a renewed anti-CETA campaign to gain traction in such referenda.

European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström warned last year of the risk of such referenda: “We can’t have local referenda on all trade agreements if we want to be serious,” she said, adding they would undermine the EU’s credibility as a trading partner. “If we do that, we can close the shop,” she said.

source: Politico