Why CETA is more than a trade agreement

Daniel Caspary, Member of the European Parliament, Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats)

Following heated public debates over the course of the past months, the European Parliament has voted in favour of the trade agreement between the EU and Canada (CETA). CETA, however, is more than a mere trade agreement − it sends a vital signal against protectionism and for rule-guided globalisation.

CETA-critics fiercely resisted against the EU-Canada trade agreement until the very last moment. Worst-case scenarios were evoked: According to their logic, CETA implies the abolition of democracy and a wave of lawsuits by large multinationals against EU member states. These claims are unfounded and neatly fall in the category “fake news”. In contrast, CETA is the most modern and advanced agreement ever negotiated by Canada and the EU.

CETA can enter into force provisionally once the Canadian Parliament has approved it. Before the agreement can finally enter into force, CETA must be ratified by all EU member states according to their respective national ratification procedures. European citizens, customers and enterprises will start benefitting from CETA as soon as the agreement enters into force provisionally. CETA cuts down 99 per cent of all existing custom duties and tariff barriers, saving European citizens and industry 500 million euros every year. The heavy burden of bureaucracy will be lifted from small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as existing norms and standards are mutually recognised by both Canada and the EU. Moreover, European companies will gain better market access in Canada. Ultimately, every one billion euros in additional trade volume across the Atlantic will help creating 14,000 new jobs in Europe.

CETA is a milestone for international trade. Globalisation is already happening and cannot be undone − this is an irreversible fact. However, in an ever-more closely entangled world, we do not want the largest, richest and most unfair actor to lead the way in global trade. Globalising international trade must follow the rule of law. CETA defines rules for international trade. With CETA, we shape globalisation instead of running away from it. This renders CETA the deciding benchmark against which all future trade agreements will be measured.

In times of ever louder calls for protectionism from the United States, CETA sends an important signal for openness. Putting the domestic industry first by fencing oneself off may lead to short-term benefits for home-based companies. However, in a long-term perspective, protectionism only produces losers on all sides. Saying “yes” to CETA proves Europe’s capacity to act in rough times and demonstrates its unwavering support for openness. Openness is not only the backbone of European economies, but the guarantee of a stable and strong democracy, not only in Europa, but worldwide.

Daniel Caspary (German, CDU) is Coordinator of the EPP Group in the Committee on International Trade (INTA) in the European Parliament. He serves as Parliamentary Secretary (Chief Whip) of the German CDU/CSU delegation. He has been a member of the European Parliament since 2004.

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