Author: Samuel Osborne
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has celebrated a controversial trade deal with the European Union.
Addressing the EU parliament a day after the pact was formally approved, Mr Trudeau said the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (Ceta) deal would create jobs and boost the middle class on both sides of the Atlantic.
He said “trade that is free and fair means that we can make the lives of our citizens more affordable.”
Mr Trudeau, who is widely admired and recently made headlines for attracting the eye of Ivanka Trump, praised the deal, which critics fear gives too much power to multinational companies and will undermine the EU’s environmental, labour and consumer standards.
He presented the pact as a «blue-print» for future trade deals and said it was the outcome of Europe and Canada’s shared history and values.
Ceta will eliminate most tariffs for business between the EU’s economy of half a billion people and Canada’s 35 million.
The EU Parliament approved the deal with a wide margin of 408, 254 against and 33 abstentions.
Hundreds of protesters gathered at the European Parliament building in Strasbourg ahead of the vote.
Mark Dearn, senior trade campaigner at anti-poverty charity War on Want, warned the deal would «worsen inequality and increase social tensions across the continent.»
He said: “Worse still, Ceta’s ‘corporate court’ process destroys equality before the law and will give big business new powers to sue [the UK’s] government.»
Laurens Ankersmit, a lawyer for environmental law organisation ClientEarth, warned the European Parliament had “placed a greater value in business interests than a commitment to the rule of law”.
He added: “Unfortunately, Ceta is not a progressive agreement. It offers businesses a great deal, including the ability to sue governments without any strings attached.
«There are no obligations for investors, the commitments in the environmental chapter are not enforceable and the exceptions clauses necessary to safeguard decision-making in the public interest are completely outdated.”
Mr Trudeau went on to compliment the EU, telling the parliament: «You are a vital player in addressing the challenges we collectively face.
«The whole world benefits from a strong EU.»