European Parliament approves trade deal with Canada

European Council President Donald Tusk left Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau center and European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker prepare to leave the room at the end of an EU-Canada summit at the European Council building in Brussels S

The deal, known as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, is slated to end 98 percent of tariffs on goods from the outset and 99 percent after seven years (each side plans to dismantle all industrial tariffs and more than 90 percent of agricultural duties). This will be a first for any European Prime Minister.

The deal was not resoundingly endorsed by the European Union parliament, with 58 percent of its members supporting CETA after a boisterous debate that saw tempers flare repeatedly. "Die Linke is vehemently against CETA and will try everything to stop it from being implemented and will fight to make CETA a topic in the German election", De Masi, who is also a member of EU parliament's European United Left-Nordic Green Left group, said.

French National Front leader and presidential candidate Marine Le Pen claimed the "terrible" agreement will undermine thousands of jobs in Europe and eliminate the rights of governments to legislate.

The vote should close the drawn-out approval process across the 28 member states, where some governments and legislations had tried to modify or scupper the deal.

Greenpeace EU trade policy adviser Shira Stanton said: "Despite today's vote, the ratification of CETA by all of Europe's parliaments is still the most unlikely outcome".

One official said this is a crowd that needs to hear that message because it not one that is "particularly cognizant" of. It has much more to with human rights democracy and environmental rights. In addition, the approval of CETA keeps momentum behind a series of separate European Union trade negotiations with other countries including Japan.

The vote was passed by 408-254 while crowds of demonstrators protested the deal outside the Strasbourg Parliament building.

"However, policymakers must continue to focus on maintaining the global competitiveness of vulnerable sectors such as steel as the revisions to the system, which will apply from 2020, go through the remaining stages of the negotiation process".

Artis Pabriks of the European People's Party took what some could interpret as a swipe at U.S. President Donald declaration to back away from free trade deals like the Trans Pacific Partnership and the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Implementation of CETA, including investment, will only ensue after clearance by more than three dozen national and regional parliaments, and is by no means a certainty.



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