CETA is a new trade agreement between the EU and Canada.
What is the purpose of the deal?
It cuts tariffs and makes it easier to export goods and services, benefiting people and businesses in both the EU and Canada.
In 2017, the Liberal government passed legislation in the House of Commons that paved the way for the full ratification of the Canada–EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). On September 21, 2017, it celebrated the provisional coming into force of the agreement, stealing some thunder from the Conservatives who negotiated the bulk of the deal over seven years starting in 2008.
CETA entered into force provisionally on 21 September 2017, meaning most of the agreement now applies. Parts of the Agreement that are not provisionally applied will enter into force only once the agreement is ratified by Canada and the European Union and its Member States. National parliaments in EU countries – and in some cases regional ones too – will then need to approve CETA before it can take full effect.
In Europe, however, 23 member states have yet to ratify CETA, which makes the Canadian announcement seem premature if not undemocratic. Many European countries are still debating whether CETA’s investment chapter gives private arbitrators too much power to decide the legitimacy of government decisions. Unlike the Trudeau government, they can see there is nothing “progressive” about an agreement that prioritizes corporate interests over the public good in the development of laws and regulations.
Actually, the verdict is still out on whether this part of CETA (its investment rules) is legal in the EU—a question put to the European Court of Justice by Belgium this spring. If the court says no, or if any one of those 23 countries chooses not to ratify the deal, it’s possible the whole thing could unravel.
What parts of the deal are taking effect?
Canadian and EU negotiators agreed, when they signed CETA in 2016, that most of the deal should go into effect after the Canadian and European Parliaments ratified it.
Many of the policies being adjusted under the deal are made at the EU level rather than by individual states. A few items that deal more specifically with national jurisdictions are being put off until all 28 EU member states have ratified CETA in their legislatures.
But according to a government official, “all economically significant parts of the agreement will come into force” Thursday, including slashing tariffs, increasing mobility for company employees, opening up government procurement rules and recognizing professional qualifications for certain professions (accountants, architects, engineers, lawyers).
How will CETA affect labour mobility and professional qualifications?
CETA streamlines entry and visa procedures to make it easier for Canadians to do business in the EU and for Canadian companies to hire EU professionals. It also makes it easier to get an intra-company work visa. The agreement provides a framework for professional orders and organizations in both markets to work out equivalencies for qualifications.
Which EU countries have ratified CETA?
So far, at least 10 Member States have ratified CETA or are reportedly at an advanced stage (Latvia, Denmark, Malta, Spain, Croatia, Czech Republic, Portugal, Estonia, Sweden, and Lithuania).
CETA was indeed first blocked by the parliament of the Belgian region of Wallonia.
On July 13, 2018, Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio said that Italy won’t ratify EU-Canada trade deal.