David Martin MEP

Labour Member of the European Parliament and one of the six MEPs representing Scotland in Brussels and Strasbourg

CETA is not TTIP and should be considered on its own merits

Public disaffection over the TTIP negotiations must not interfere with the revolutionary CETA with Canada, writes David Martin.

When the Canadian trade Minister Chrystia Freeland came to Parliament's international trade committee earlier this year, she wanted to make one thing very clear: Canada is not the US. We will of course be welcoming Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Strasbourg in October, something that I know many colleagues await with excitement.

Given the popularity of Trudeau among Europeans, it therefore seems strange that last week thousands were gathered on the streets of Brussels protesting a deal that would strengthen economic and political cooperation between the EU and the country he represents.

For many out there on the streets, the comprehensive economic and trade agreement (CETA) and the transatlantic trade and investment partnership (TTIP) are interchangeable; two sides of the same coin.

Of course, trade policy is now - rightly in my view - centre stage and subject to unprecedented levels of scrutiny. But just like Canada is not the US, CETA is not TTIP and should be considered on its own merits.

First, in terms of market access this deal goes further than ever before. The Canadians have agreed for the first time to open up government contracts at the sub-federal level to foreign firms.

Public procurement markets are a big potential job creator in the EU but this issue is a major sticking point in the stalled TTIP negotiations. For our farmers, we have also managed to gain important opportunities in the Canadian dairy sector, as well as securing legal geographical protection for over 140 of our food products.

Second, the issue of regulatory cooperation is one that has been controversial in the TTIP debates. The collaboration foreseen in CETA is nowhere near the same scale as that proposed in the EU-US agreement. There is no doubt that with CETA, the EU will be able to maintain its high health and safety standards.

Third, the new Canadian government has always been willing to listen to our concerns and accommodate them. They shared our vision for a brand new transparent and public investment court system (ICS) and even went back into the text at the legal scrubbing stage - an unprecedented move - to replace the discredited investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS).

Finally and most importantly, unlike TTIP, the whole final CETA text is there on the table. CETA is concluded, whereas TTIP is still under negotiation and therefore its outcome is still uncertain. We can analyse each of CETA's 1500 pages rather than relying on position papers and half-finished documents. We can consider facts rather than rumours and conjecture.

Certain aspects of the deal, notably about public services, the new investment court system and workers' rights, need further clarifications.

Both European trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström and Minister Freeland have declared that they would be open to legally binding declarations in addition to the CETA agreement to clear up any lingering doubts. I of course welcome this and I am confident that the debate in my group will be constructive and based on an accurate analysis of CETA's text and nothing else.

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