29 November 2016
I have continued to recieve many queries about the EU's proposed Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with Canada (CETA). Here's a quick update of where we are now for any constituents who may be concerned.
Labour MEPs take a cautious stance when it comes to these EU trade deals. While we recognise that increasing trade flows between the EU and Canada could be beneficial to the UK economy, we have also raised concerns regarding some of the proposals made in these negotiations. Obviously here in the UK, things are now different with Brexit looming - and there's a real danger that the UK Government may adopt a much more gung-ho free market approach than the EU on future British trade deals.
We do not expect the vote on CETA in the European Parliament to take place until 2017, and while the European Parliament’s Trade committee has started debating the agreement’s merits and shortfalls, Labour MEPs are committed to reserving our final voting position until we can see the full picture, including whether any further interpretations of what the agreement entails may be secured. We have in any case secured a commitment from the European Commission that CETA will not be provisionally implemented before the European Parliament votes.
While as MEPs we can pass or veto trade deals once they are concluded, we do not start or stop negotiations. It is up to national governments - including the UK Government - to adopt or revoke any negotiating mandate. National parliaments must also ratify CETA - so we can expect a vote in Westminster too. This was highlighted last month when CETA negotiations took a turn, when Wallonia - one of Belgium's regions with the power to co-determine Belgium's position - opposed the trade deal. Last minute concessions were made and Wallonia acquiesced.
I will continue to keep constituents posted of any future developments, which will most likely now be in the new year.