You just can’t please everybody – at least, it seems that way in the EU, according to a recent article on the Financial Post.
With the October target for CETA’s ratification fast approaching, Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern has declared that his country is prepared to confront other European Union member states in opposition of the free trade deal with Canada.
“This will be difficult, this will be the next conflict in the EU that Austria will trigger… We must focus on making sure… we don’t shift the power balance in favor of global enterprises,” Kern told national public broadcaster ORF.
Austria is also standing against the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a proposed free trade deal with the US that many are concerned could compromise food safety standards. Kern also shuns the idea of allowing companies to challenge government policies if they feel disadvantaged by regulation, which is an allowance made by the EU-US trade deal.
“We will have to see where the weaknesses of (CETA) are. Many are the same as with TTIP,” Kern said. It was an assertion that many expect him to clarify with the media.
Of course, not all EU representatives share Austria’s view. A recording of an ORF radio broadcast has reported that European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker in June called CETA the best trade agreement reached by the EU, telling Austria to cease its “clownery” with regards to the deal.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier puts CETA on a higher pedestal than the TTIP. “We shouldn’t fool ourselves (about TTIP). We are still far away from what we achieved in the CETA in terms of standards and procedures. It will be a yardstick that other trade agreements are measured against,” he declared at a forum hosted by the Foreign Ministry, which was attended by more than 1,000 diplomats and business executives.
Despite the German government’s supportive stance, activists in Germany have shouted out against the deal, filing a complaint with the Constitutional Court in an attempt to sink CETA.
With the EU apparently struggling to successfully finalize its major trade deals, pundits see its credibility on the world stage hanging in the balance.
“No one would ever again engage in years of negotiations with us to see it all go south the last minute. With all the mess around TTIP, we must deliver CETA,” an unnamed diplomat in Brussels was quoted as saying.
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