EU and Canada seek to quash trade concerns with declaration

By anna smith

Canada’s trade minister and the EU trade chief have attempted to assuage doubts of Austria and other EU members over a planned free trade deal between the two entities.

Chrystia Freeland, Canadian Trade Minister, said that key issues would add no new elements to the deal.

"What the joint declaration can do is strengthen elements which already exist in the agreement," Freeland told a joint news conference with Austria's Economy Minister Reinhold Mitterlehner on Wednesday. "What it is not able to do is introduce entirely new elements."

Several oppose the The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) - it has been a key target of protests by unions, environmental organisations and others who say it will worsen labour conditions and allow big business to challenge governments across Europe.

In a letter, European Trade Commissioner Cecelia Malmstrom wrote: "We intend to clarify all the points that have sparked particular concern in public debate, especially the ability of governments to provide public services and the protection of labour and environmental standards."

If member states and the European Parliament approve it, The EU-Canada deal could be enforced next year. Chances of this happening increased on Monday after the German Social Democrats (junior partners in the ruling coalition) gave their backing.

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