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EU approval process for FTAs may jeopardize Canada trade deal, TTIP

WASHINGTON – A free trade agreement between Canada and the European Union that’s nearing completion now may need to clear a higher hurdle to be approved, jeopardizing the deal and future ones. The European Commission, which has the sole authority to negotiate and approve trade deals, apparently will allow the 28 EU member countries to participate in the ratification process of the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

The European Court of Justice currently is considering whether trade deals – in the case, an agreement with Singapore – require member state approval. Several EU commissioners, including commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström, have argued it is enough for the EU Council, consisting of the 28 EU trade ministers, and a majority of the European Parliament to conclude agreements. Giving EU member countries authority to approve trade agreements would have implications for the U.S.-EU trade deal – the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) – that now is being negotiated. (The next round of TTIP talks are set for July 11-15 in Brussels, Belgium.)

While NPPC currently supports TTIP, it is skeptical of progress being made on it based on the intransigence of the EU on various issues. The EU is willing to eliminate tariffs on nearly all goods, for example, but it announced publicly it is unwilling to eliminate them on beef, poultry and pork. NPPC wants in TTIP the same deal it has gotten in the 20 other free trade agreements the United States has concluded and in the recently finalized Trans-Pacific Partnership: elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers on U.S. pork exports.