The success story of CETA

The European Union has today, the 15th of February , in Brussels, voted in favor of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement. This is a bilateral international treaty, aiming to establish free trade relations. Negotiations have started since many years but there was no concrete outcome (owning to Belgium’s opposition) until Saturday, the 29th of October 2016, when it was finally agreed with Canada. There is a big controversy around CETA, which needs to be analyzed thoroughly.

At first, what needs to be clarified is the background of the two parties’ relations in order to understand why surrogates of Canada and the EU Member States have been struggling for this agreement that much. It is important to know that Canada is the 12th most important trading partner of the European Union, while the latter is the 2nd biggest trading partner of the EU(after the US), accounting for 10% of Europe’s external trade. The EU exports mainly machinery, transport equipment and chemicals to Canada and Canada offers natural resources, energy, raw materials, as well as vacancies to European population, know-how and exports from EU to foreign markets. For that reason, CETA aims to help both trade and investment be conducted in an easier, amplified and more democratic way. In total, trade in goods and services comes up to €60 billion and more than €120 billion respectively, per year.

What could be healthier and more beneficial for the European Union rather than a treaty with a sizeable, healthy market, like Canada? In times of economic uncertainty, this agreement marches in parallel with the objectives set by the European Union within the “Europe 2020” Strategy, in terms of employing the 75% of the population aged from 20 to 64 years old, as well as making Europe a more sustainable place to work by creating conditions for a more competitive economy. The agreement is expected to increase trade in goods and services between the EU and Canada by nearly a quarter as the promotion of growth, the effective investment and the research innovation become priorities. Furthermore, CETA is a progressive treaty that, in terms of business world, will contribute to the elimination of import duties (European exporters will save around €500 million a year), the establishment of EU public contracts in Canada, the transfer of personnel between the two parties, the limitation of the unlawful copies Canada used to make with the European innovations, traditional food products and artworks. Concerning farming, the open market will allow consumers to have a variety when choosing the products they want, making the companies keep their prices low. As a major producer of high-quality food, the EU will become able to sell more to a high-income market and thus increase its income.

In case these were not enough to persuade, then the guarantees CETA is offering may be more encouraging even for the more skeptical European citizens. According to the draft resolution (Chapter 21, Article 21.1, par.2), there is going to be a Regulatory Cooperation Forum, which will ensure respect for the already existing treaties, like GATT for products or GATS for services, as well as the protection for human, animal and plant life or health and the environment. Its role will be advisory by suggesting technical solutions to legislators, but will never interfere in a country’s decision- making process and domestic policy. It will be like a conformity assessment body in the EU testing EU products for export to the Canadian market according to Canadian rules and vice versa, deterring even smaller companies from wasting money for that reason.  CETA will not even be able to influence food safety (no danger from grown hormones or GMOs) or the environment, as cooperation between the two parties is “limited” to policy developments issues. Furthermore, there is no possibility of influencing public sector, given the fact that there is no such task for CETA to put force on governments to privatize or deregulate public services. Equality, respect, transparency and democratic manipulation are also ensured through the counter investment dispute. The fact that a country has a strong legal system does not always mean the law will protect foreign investors from discrimination by governments.  In other words, CETA can prevent investors from being unfairly treated in foreign countries by establishing a strong and independent investment dispute settlement system and enacting rules on members of the tribunal to avoid frivolous claims. By setting such rules, investors will be enjoying the legal certainty they need, while making sure that the system cannot be abused.

Such a progressive treaty with a major world economy, like Canada, means a lot more than just addressing a wide range of issues about trade of products and services. The almost 1960-page draft promises a real, transparent and mutually beneficial environment for producers, traders and investors, against which no suspicious theories can ever speak.

S. Christofyllidis


I am proud to be European because…


…it enables me to have a broader identity and belong to an enlarged world.

…Europe in recent history has undergone 2 World Wars and finally stood up. And it’s still enlarging and integrating.

…it gives me the opportunity to travel all around Europe using only my ID.

..I can visit, work (with equal access to the EU Civil Service), live with no restrictions, while I can use (in most cases) the same currency, the euro. Of course, I am given the chance to experience Europe through studying as well.

Living for a long period of time in a new environment with a mix of culture, broadens my horizons, makes me a better and more capable personality with stronger capacity and clearer goals.

…product exchange is much easier and thus I can buy things as well as services easier and in a lower price. Taxes are lower if you are associating with other countries.

…in case of emergency, I can use for medically, state-provided healthcare my special European Health Insurance Card in any of the 28 (at least for now) Member States, Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

Yes, I feel safe in the European Union as long as I possess this card.

…consular and diplomatic authorities of each country can protect me when I am abroad.

…the European Omdudsman is working for me as well. Provided that the European Union Institutions or other EU bodies might in some cases mistreat me owing to poor administration, I can submit a report and let this body investigate my case.

…we are moving science ahead by making progressive steps. Real technological breakthroughs would have never been possible if European scientists were not collaborating.

…my voice is heard when it comes to the nomination of  the delegation of Europe. The European Parliament consists of politicians that me, you and every European citizen is voting for. Let alone that everyone is able to express his or her opinion to the European Commission, aiming to urge the institution submit a legislative proposal according to our interests.

…I manage to have access to official EU documents of the European Parliament, the European Commission and the European Council, letting me know about all kinds of public policy affairs. Transparency in all meetings and decisions of the EU bodies assure me of the validity of the procedures as well as the results.

…my rights are definitely protected by the Court of Justice, which encompasses the judiciary.

…democracy, equal opportunities for all, meritocracy, transparency, multiculturalism, solidarity, liberty, the rule of law and respect for the human rights, pluralism, tolerance and justice are values of the European Union. They are a stable basis, a common ground, according to which policies and political decisions (should) start.

…when it comes to global challenges and threats, even if it sounds weird, I am feeling that the European Union is going to tackle with them. The direction of the Union is clear, so irrespective of the possible obstacles, one or the other way, sooner or later, it guarantees success.

For the time being, the stability of the EU is shaken, but I know it’s the right time to prove its cohesion. Recent developments urge Europe to respond and prove its readiness. The only one the EU has to compete with, is itself.

…if I want to find information concerning the EU and my rights,”Your Europe” section and Europa, as a whole, is the key!