Proponents of Canada’s trade deal with the European Union will soon find out if eight years of negotiations and lobbying were worth it.
Canada is preparing to provisionally apply the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) by July 1.
“We are ready on the European side,” the EU’s trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said on a visit to Ottawa last Tuesday to promote the deal.
Now it’s the EU’s turn to wait for Canada.
After CETA’s successful ratification vote in February, the EU suggested it could be provisionally applied by April 1.
Malstrom now says the agreement will enter into force “within weeks.”
“We have done our work,” she said. “We don’t see any delays with this.”
Or any more delays, she could have said.
Negotiations ended in 2014. But when opposition to the controversial investment clause emerged in Europe, Canada agreed to revisions a year ago.
More “clarifications” were required when the signing ceremony in October was nearly undone by last-minute brinksmanship by the Wallonia region of Belgium, which wanted changes to agricultural and other provisions.
In Canada, the federal cabinet ratifies CETA, so unlike in Europe, there’s no voting drama here.
The legislation to bring Canada’s laws and regulations into compliance, C-30, is now before the Senate foreign affairs and trade committee.
It meets Wednesday and Thursday, with International Trade Minister François-Philippe Champagne and senior officials expected as witnesses.
A few clauses of the bill were tweaked in mostly technical ways during the Commons committee’s review. There’s no sign of senators holding it up.