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José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Statement by the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Durão Barroso following his meeting with the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper
18 October 2013
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen,
I am delighted to welcome Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to Brussels today.
His visit marks a turning point in European Union– Canadian relations as I am pleased to announce that we have today achieved a breakthrough in the negotiations for a Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement - or CETA as it is also known.
I have just signed a declaration with Prime-Minister Harper confirming that this agreement opens a new era in the European Union-Canada relations.
First, let me thank Commissioner Karel De Gucht - who is in Luxembourg today with European trade ministers – and our negotiators for their dedication and hard work at getting this deal struck along with their Canadian counterparts.
And of course my very personal special thanks and appreciation to Prime Minister Harper. We had an intense dialogue and in the last five months this is our fourth meeting, which illustrates well our joint commitment to this agreement and to the European Union-Canada relations. Thank you Stephen for the constructive spirit, in which you always dealt with us in terms of this agreement that I believe is a great agreement for both Canada and the European Union.
This is indeed a truly historic occasion. It is the first time that the European Union agrees a trade agreement with a G8 country and it will also be the biggest trade agreement of Canada ever.
This is also a landmark achievement for the transatlantic economy and a stepping stone to an integrated transatlantic market, something I have been advocating for a long time and I am proud that this Commission is taking the necessary steps in that direction.
This agreement will boost our trade and investment relations and will contribute to generate more growth and jobs in the European Union and Canada. Once implemented, according to independent studies, it is expected to increase two-way bilateral trade in goods and services by 23%, around €26 billion. The overall benefits of the agreement are expected to raise the level of the European Union’s annual GDP by approximately €12 billion a year.
With this agreement we are also sending an important and positive signal around the world: to markets, to businesses, our trading partners and of course the millions of people across Europe, but also I believe, across Canada, that are looking for growth and in Europe especially, for a renewed economic drive.
So, basically, what's in the deal?
First of all, industrial tariffs will be fully eliminated – this means brought to zero - and European Union exporters are expected to save almost € 500 million in duties per year.
Secondly, we will increase our cooperation on technical regulation and the mutual recognition of industrial standards which will end up costly procedures for consumers and producers in the European Union and Canada.
Furthermore, we open trade in services, in particular financial services, telecommunications, e-commerce, energy and transport.
And for the first time in its history, Canada has committed all its levels of government to the opening up of public procurement markets, which will provide EU exporters with brand new opportunities.
For both PM Harper and myself agriculture was a sensitive matter, as usually happens in trade negotiations. We were able however to strike a very good balance between our offensive and defensive interests. And I would like to say that I am particularly happy that we achieved recognition and protection of our geographical indications.
Finally it is important to underline that both of us have agreed that our trade and investment relationship will not develop at the expense of the environment or of labour rights. I think this is especially important since we know that sometimes there are some concerns expressed, namely here in Europe, that trade and liberalisation could lower the standards in several fields. This is not at all the case with this historical achievement.
Today's successful outcome shows us that with political will and a good dose of hard work there is a way to reach a result that benefits people on both sides of the Atlantic. I want of course once again to congratulate the Prime Minister Harper but also the negotiators on both sides. Some of them are present here on the Canadian side. On the European side, as I said, Karel De Gucht cannot be with us because of the trade ministerial in Luxembourg.
Prime Minister, dear Stephen,
This agreement also has an importance which goes beyond trade. Together with the Strategic Partnership Agreement that we should conclude soon, it will cement our bilateral relationship and the strong bonds that unite Europe and Canada.
I am therefore proud to say that today is the beginning of new era for the EU and Canada as stated in our joint declaration signed just now.
I thank you for your attention.