19 Jan 2016
EU-CANADA COMPREHENSIVE TRADE AGREEMENT – 19 JANUARYBrussels Daily
EU-Canada negotiations for a Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) were declared concluded in September 2014. Except for a few sensitive agricultural products, CETA would remove practically all tariffs on goods exchanged between the two partners, and create important new market opportunities in, among others, financial services, telecommunications, energy and maritime transport, while reserving the parties’ right to regulate their internal public affairs. Canada would substantially open up its public procurement, at both federal and sub-federal level, thereby eliminating a major asymmetry in access to each other’s public procurement markets. The consolidated CETA text is currently undergoing legal-linguistic review. Once this ‘legal scrubbing’ and the translation into all official EU languages are completed, the Commission can submit it to the Council and the European Parliament for approval. It is still to be decided whether the agreement in its entirety falls under exclusive competence of the European Union or would also touch upon Member States’ competences. In the latter case, ratification by the Member States would also be necessary for the agreement to come into force. CETA brings forward a number of innovations to reform and reshape investment protection provisions in general and the investor-state-dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism in particular. Nevertheless, persistent opposition to investment protection, and ISDS in particular, has given rise to proposals to incorporate (elements of) the new investment court system (ICS) into CETA. The Commission is reportedly not pressing for including its entire ICS proposal into CETA; however, it intends to ‘fine-tune’ the agreement within the process of legal scrubbing. Working towards including (elements of) the ICS system into CETA could then be envisaged via the use of review clauses.