European Commission pushing for closure of CETA
The European Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmström, hopes to ratify CETA at the EU-Canada summit on October 27. The European Commission wants to implement the agreement on a “provisional” basis beforehand. The most likely course of action is that if the deal is approved by a majority of countries in the European Council and Parliament, then most tariff reductions will come into force early next year. However, in the long-term the accord would still need approval in 38 national and regional parliaments across the EU, a process that could take years.
CETA has gained significant political momentum in the past weeks despite opposition from civil society. German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel won the support of his party for the trade agreement in late September, clearing the path for Berlin to back the deal. Austria, whose Chancellor Christian Kern is increasingly hostile to free trade, has become the main opposition to CETA. Berlin is expected to pressure Vienna to ensure its support. Other sensitive issues include Romania and Bulgaria who say they will not sign the deal unless restrictions on visas for their citizens are lifted, Slovenia who rejects the inclusion of the Investment Court System, and Belgium who needs to overcome an anti-CETA motion passed by one of its regional governments.