Today is the day of entry into provisional application of the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, known as CETA. This is a momentous day and one that we need to mark accordingly. In a world where protectionism is having a comeback, Canada and the EU show that the way of stability and prosperity is through more sustainable and rule-based trade, not less.
This treaty – one of the most modern and advanced the world has ever seen – has been the result of the work of many for more than eight years, from the beginning of the negotiations until today. I would also argue that CETA has been the international agreement most responsive to the public, by providing transparency in the negotiations and by answering a public call for a new type of investment arbitration, to be done in a new Investment Court System. Negotiators have listened to the concerns of the public all the way to the last moment, such as with the Wallonia opposition days before conclusion.
Yet CETA provides impetus for future reflection. Have we accomplished everything we could accomplish? Can we use this positive example of EU-Canada relations and turn it into even more positive results for our relations and for our public?
CETA opens paths to economic prosperity that we will see unfolding in the months and years following this 21 September, but also opens the door for other new opportunities and points of collaboration, as nations and peoples similar to one another in terms of values and beliefs.
There are many other things we can do to further spur economic growth and serve our citizens in their economic aspirations. The area of achieving mutual recognition of professional qualifications comes to mind as a sector we can further develop. CETA provides a framework to negotiate agreements on the mutual recognition of professional qualifications and establishes a method and a committee to advance and supervise the process.
Together with CETA, a Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) also entered into provisional application earlier this year, confirming our relation is not only about economics, but also very much about values.
As we begin the ratification process in all our Member States, we should commit to being supporters of something good and anticipate that more good can come from it. This includes talking to people, dissipating fears and debunking myths in all of our parliaments involved in the process. A lot is at stake and much more good can be achieved together in the future.