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EU wants more, more, more from Canada in controversial trade negotiations

| February 22, 2013
European trade commissioner

So how do you like it, Mr. De Gucht? The Canada-EU trade deal, that is. Not very much, according to news reports of public posturing on both sides of the CETA negotiations.

"What was on the table simply didn't please me, so I didn't make an agreement," said the European trade commissioner (pictured) in Brussels today, as if he were bargaining with a parent over whether or not to eat his peas. In fact, De Gucht was referring to a February 6 ministerial meeting with International Trade Minister Ed Fast that failed to bridge the remaining gaps in the CETA negotiations.

"They (Canada) need to make additional steps and, if not, there will not be an agreement."

Fast's spokesperson Rudy Husny responded, "We continue to appreciate and encourage the EU's high level of ambition, especially on the core issues of importance to Canada."

Neither side has the upper hand. The EU is waving about a potential U.S. free trade deal as a reason for Canada to give way quickly and generously on intellectual property, procurement and dairy imports or watch CETA get pushed aside for more important negotiations. But that's the Commission's problem as much as Harper's. De Gucht needs to finish CETA before a planned U.S.-EU summit in June or it will look like he can't make the compromises the U.S. government is demanding on agriculture (beef, pork, grains) and regulations, which transatlantic free trade could weaken in Europe.

Diagnosis: Another media burp at the end of a four-year trade negotiation that went unnoticed by too many for too long.

Should we care? Not really. The best possible outcome is for De Gucht to stand by his words and walk away from CETA.

What can we do about it? Canada can walk away first!

It's a small thing but why not write the Prime Minister (or send him a tweet @pmharper) asking him, quite simply, to walk away from the Canada-EU trade negotiations. End the dance. This De Gucht character is too fussy and it was a bad deal to begin with.

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