News in brief

EU parliament backs trade deal with Canada

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MEPs today backed the CETA trade deal with Canada, with 408 in favor and 254 against, amid protests outside the EU parliament building in Strasbourg.

The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) was negotiated for nearly five years and four months.

In 2015, EU-Canada trade accounted for more than €60bn – the EU trade authorities have claimed CETA will boost this by 20%.

CETA would remove all tariffs between the EU and Canada, except those charged on public services, audiovisual and transport services and a few agricultural products.

It would also lead to the mutual recognition of certifications for a wide range of products.

However, opponents fear it will undermine the EU’s environmental, labor and consumer standards.

In response, EU trade commissioner, Cecilia Malmstrom, said CETA would not change food safety standards or any other EU requirements, with only the EU institutions able to modify such standards.

The EU has also argued that CETA will make it easier for European companies to expand in the Canadian market. Under the accord, Canada would open up its government tenders to EU firms more than with any of its other trading partners, both at federal and municipal levels.

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