European Union parliament backs draft carbon trading reforms

Rubberstamping of Canada trade deal will benefit the Scotch whisky sector

The European Parliament will vote today (Wednesday) on the ratification of the CETA free trade agreement between the EU and Canada.

Members of the European Parliament voted 408-254 to approve the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with Canada.

So it's shameful that so many MEPs in voting for CETA have come down in favour of the army of corporate lobbyists that have been howling for this deal rather than the voices of the ordinary people that they are supposed to represent. The deal will increase bilateral trade in goods and services by more than 20 percent, according to a joint EU-Canada study.

Guy Verhofstadt, the leader of the EU's ALDE liberal group, said this is a great deal, particularly in the face of the USA pulling out of the Pacific negotiations and talk of trade tariffs. Canada is to open up its federal and municipal public procurement markets, which are already open in Europe.

While some aspects of the deal will be provisionally implemented as of March 1, full implementation of the deal will require the approval of each member state's parliament. "CETA will be a lighthouse for future trade deals all over the world", said Artis Pabriks of the European People's Party", calling Canada an "ally we can rely on".

No EU country has ever stopped a trade agreement from going into effect by refusing to ratify a final deal.

Brussels defends that the deal will suppress 99 percent of the tariffs and imply the saving of 500 million euros for European exporters.

She said the deal will create sizeable new market access opportunities in services and investment for Irish firms while also providing access to Canadian public contracts. The deal establishes bilateral cooperation on an array of non-trade issues, including foreign and security policy, counter-terrorism, fighting organized crime, sustainable development, research and culture.

French National Front leader and presidential candidate Marine Le Pen claimed the "terrible" agreement will undermine thousands of jobs in Europe and eliminate the rights of governments to legislate.

European Union suppliers of services ranging from sea shipping through telecoms and engineering to environmental services and accountancy will get access to the Canadian market.

According to the European Commission (EC) CETA will get rid of nearly 99% of tariffs, saving European companies over €500mn a year.

But a major flashpoint for opponents is the proposal to set up special courts to settle disputes between investors and national authorities that is central to the deal.