STRASBOURG, Fra.–The European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday approved the Canada-EU trade agreement.
Roughly 58 per cent of the members of the European Parliament (MEPs) voted to ratify the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), setting the stage for provisional application of nearly 90 per cent of the agreement later this spring, the CBC reported.
The final vote saw most of the MEPs representing Europe’s centrist parties voting in favour, with opposition from members representing left-leaning socialist and Green as well as right-wing, nationalist parties.
Of the 695 MEPs present in the 751-seat legislature, 408 voted in favour, 254 against and 33 abstained.
A close vote would have made it more difficult to rally enthusiasm across Europe to implement what the deal has to offer.
EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom, who worked closely with Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s former trade minister and now minister of foreign affairs, to see CETA through to its signing ceremony last October, said ratification heralded the start of a new era in Canada-EU relations.
MEPs also voted Wednesday to approve an EU-Canada Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) covering non-trade issues such as foreign and security policy, counter-terrorism, fighting organised crime, sustainable development, research and culture. That vote passed by a larger margin, 506-142, with 43 abstentions.
Prior to the vote, European advocates spoke of the desire to approve the deal out of empathy and solidarity with Canada in the face of aggressive trade threats and rising protectionism and nationalist sentiments in the United States.
The House of Commons passed C-30, Canada’s implementation legislation for the European Union trade deal, at third reading on Tuesday afternoon. Once it clears the Senate, a range of federal laws and regulations will change to bring Canada into compliance with the new trading arrangements.
Similar changes now need to be made at the provincial and territorial level as well.
Once Canada has finished these processes, over 90 per cent of the agreement may come into force provisionally on the first day of the second month following the date both sides notify each other that they have completed all their necessary legal and regulatory changes to comply.
A press release from the EU suggested this could be the case as of April 1 at the earliest.
Full implementation of the agreement requires votes in national and regional parliaments across EU’s member states.