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[Check Against Delivery]
Karel De Gucht
European Commissioner for Trade
Statement on CETA
European Parliament plenary session
Strasbourg, 16 September 2014
Mr Chairman/Madam Chair, Honourable Members of Parliament,
After five years of intensive negotiations, the chief negotiators have finished their work to deliver a Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between the EU and Canada.
The INTA Committee immediately received the full text and it will be made public shortly.
Canada is the first G8 Member with whom we agree on a comprehensive trade deal. The Agreement is crucial for the credibility of our trade agenda, because it confirms that we can do deals - even very good deals – and in this case with a developed economy with its own established approach and regulatory framework. Hence the challenging times during the negotiation.
This Agreement is also very valuable in its own right. It creates opportunities for our business. Canada offers a sizeable market for European products and services. EU operators get the same treatment and even better than that received by US competitors. This is an important achievement sustaining our quest for more jobs and growth in Europe when you consider the uncertain economic backdrop on our continent.
Politically, Canada is an important ally. It is also an important destination for European investments, but also invests massively in the EU, creating jobs and wealth. Canada is rich in natural resources and raw materials, and is a significant source of know how.
In short, through CETA:
• Both sides will eliminate – with very few exceptions – almost all customs tariffs. At the same time, a few, very sensitive agricultural products will remain protected.
• The outcome on services and investment market access puts us on an even better footing than the US under NAFTA. It will also in no way affect the ability of EU governments at all levels to provide and subsidise public services.
We also have an unprecedented result on public procurement. Under CETA, we receive significant access to public procurement markets in Canada at all levels of Government.
On investment, the agreement establishes a system that sets a new standard for investor-to-state dispute settlement procedures. We are well aware of the concerns that exist. This agreement directly addresses all the concerns that have emerged so far.
I also want to highlight the result on Geographical Indications. We have achieved a very extensive protection in Canada of the designations of Europe’s high quality agricultural products, be it Parmiggiano Reggiano, Schwarzwälder Schinken, Bleu d’Auvergne or 142 others which are fully protected. This is one of the parts which most visibly shows how CETA can also benefit small and medium sized operators across Europe.
The EU-Canada trade and investment relationship will not come at the expense of environmental or social and labour standards. We are both aware that we have a responsibility here. It is the highest standard we have in trade agreements and it’s more than what Canada has done before.
In terms of next steps, President Barroso and the Canadian Prime Minister, Mr. Harper, intend to publicly announce the conclusion of the negotiations at the EU-Canada Summit in Ottawa on 26 September. Further to this, both sides will submit this text to their respective legislators for verification and ratification – in the case of the EU this means to Council and Parliament.
Because legal verification and official translations take so long, I would expect signature and formal transmission of the text to Parliament to take place well into 2015.
Coming this far, at a pace that has been punishing for those involved, is an important achievement the Commission is proud of. I look forward to this legislature's support for CETA's contribution to the creation of more jobs and growth in Europe.