Saturday, September 20, 2008

Canada to integrate with the EU?

"Welcome to the official Web site of the Mission of Canada to the European Union", says the Government of Canada Canada-EU website.

Canada-EU trade proposal rivals scope of NAFTA
"Canadian and European officials say they plan to begin negotiating a massive agreement to integrate Canada's economy with the 27 nations of the European Union, with preliminary talks to be launched at an Oct. 17 summit in Montreal three days after the federal election."

"an effort to begin what a senior EU official involved in the talks described in an interview yesterday as “deep economic integration negotiations.”

"The two governments have completed a detailed study of the proposed agreement that will be unveiled shortly after the election, should the Conservatives win."

Deep economic integration? Should the Conservatives win?
How come we haven't heard about this before?

"European officials said Prime Minister Stephen Harper decided not to release until after the election..."

Yes, let's not risk having a summit on deep integration spoil the election.

"Because of the election, Mr. Harper appears to have decided not to unveil a full text of the proposed agreement, but instead to use the summit to inaugurate the trade talks with the launch of a “scoping exercise” that will quickly set the goals of the pact and lead to formal “comprehensive trade and investment negotiations” to begin in “early 2009”, according to communications between senior Canadian and European officials examined by The Globe and Mail."

You know, maybe this could be a good thing - diversify and increase our markets and all that.

"Proponents, including all of Canada's major business-lobby organizations, are in favour of the deal .."

I see. So the electorate is not to be included in the information loop yet, but the Canadian Council of Chief Executives has already given its stamp of approval. If it's anything like the SPP, I'll bet they wrote it, and if I go over to their website, they'll be bragging about it already.

"The proposed pact would far exceed the scope of older agreements such as NAFTA by encompassing not only unrestricted trade in goods, services and investment and the removal of tariffs, but also the free movement of skilled people and an open market in government services and procurement – which would require that Canadian governments allow European companies to bid as equals on government contracts for both goods and services and end the favouring of local or national providers of public-sector services."

"Ottawa officials say they have overcome what they see as their biggest hurdle: the resistance of provincial governments to an agreement that would force them to allow European corporations to provide their government services, if their bids are the lowest.

So it's a Canada-EU TILMA then.
But why now?

"With the breakdown of World Trade Organization talks in July, European officials have become much more interested in opening a bilateral trade and economic integration deal with North America. A pact with the United States would be politically impossible in Europe, senior European Commission officials said."

Yes, you can see why Harper might not want this to come up now, just before the election.
The theme of this Sunday's Cross Country Check Up on CBC is the economy.
Their phone number is : 1-888-416-8333.
I think more people should know about this before the election whether Steve likes it or not.


Beijing York said...

Good catch Alison. I only caught whiff of this the other day. I do hope this gets attention during the election.

West End Bob said...

While listening to yesterday's "Best of As It Happens" podcast today, this little bit of news was included. Pretty neat how there has been no public discussion of the apparent "done deal," eh?

Some smug business coalition leader was interviewed and he pretty much came out and said that the reason it is so hush-hush is that both the reformaTories and Libs have agreed the deal should go through. Neither of the major parties wanted the public to know too much about it prior to the election.

Lovely . . . .

Alison said...

Thanks, Bob, I just listened to it.

The "some smug business coalition leader" was Roy MacLaren from CERT, the Canada-Europe Round Table For Business, pointman for this deal, and formerly Chretien's trade minister. He's been campaigning for it for years, along with d'Aquino of the CCCE, and yes, as MacLaren said, it won't matter who wins the election because both the Libs and Cons support it.

After all their hand-wringing about how the only thing wrong with the SPP was the unnecessary paranoia-inducing secrecy, and here they're doing it all over again.
Wonder what, aside from the dismantling of public infrastructure, they'll give away this time.

Christos Sirros, head of the Can-EU Quebec mission said : "Europe views a Can-EU FTA as a precursor to getting into the US market."

We're a beard.

West End Bob said...

Thanks for detailing the "smug" guy.

I somehow knew you'd have the "skinny" on him . . . . :)

Anonymous said...

Excellent sleuthing!

Oh wait...this has been in the works FOR TEN FRIGGING YEARS!!!!!

Wow, you lefties are duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuumb

Gube said...

Personally, I support building strong economic ties with the EU.
It might just help insulate us from the inevitable US economic implosion.
I may not support how the talks are being conducted - in secret - but if the goal is to start moving away from our dependency on the Amerks, I might just be for it.

Alison said...

Gabe : See post above :
Will the Canada-EU Free Trade Agreement out-NAFTA NAFTA?

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