rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

German chancellor suggests 'very limited' changes to CETA possible

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca today for as little as $1 per month!

Photo: European Council/flickr

Like this article? Chip in to keep stories likes these coming.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel met Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Ottawa this week. She departed for Germany, but some questions about the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) remain after her visit.

Last month, her Minister of Economy Sigmar Gabriel and her Secretary for Economic Affairs Matthias Machnig called on the European Commission and the European Union's member states to consider revisions to the controversial investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provision in CETA. In her public statements in Canada, Merkel praised CETA as a "good opportunity for our economy," but also appeared to signal some openness to amendments to the deal by adding, "The changes that you can still make are very limited." That's a position contrary to the one taken by the Harper government. It says the negotiations were completed in October 2013 and that the deal cannot be reopened to make any changes.

Canadian media reports have focused on their discussion about the discussion in Ukraine. But the Toronto Star reports, "Harper said he and Merkel also discussed economic conditions, the continuing efforts to implement the Canada-European Union free-trade deal and the rise in Iraq and Syria of Islamic state, which Harper termed a 'jihadist monster.'"

In terms of European media, Deutsche Welle reports, "Both leaders voiced support for the pending trade deal between the European Union and Canada, signed last year but awaiting ratification by the European Council and the European Parliament. Merkel called the agreement a 'good opportunity for our economy' at a time of low growth in Germany and across the eurozone."

Europe Online Magazine digs a little deeper, hints at some trouble with the deal and links it to the United States-European Union Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). It reports, "Merkel and Harper both supported the pending trade deal between between the European Union and Canada during a brief meeting late Monday in Ottawa. ...The agreement, which is considered a possible blueprint for sputtering talks on a U.S.-EU free-trade deal faces opposition from some German political circles voicing feat that European consumer standards would be eroded."

The Tagesschau.de article also makes the link to TTIP and introduces the notion that the CETA text could still be revised despite the Harper government stating the deal is complete. It reports (in German), "Harper and Merkel defended the controversial CETA trade agreement. ...Critics fear too much freedom for citizens and too little consumer protection. In addition, there is criticism that the agreement was negotiated secretly for years. Similar criticisms have been made about the European-American trade agreement TTIP. Merkel sees little opportunity to change CETA. 'The changes that you can still make are very limited.'"

The Stern article adds to the unfinished aspect of the deal. It reports (in German), "Negotiations on this had been completed last summer, but not initialed. Many people in Germany are concerned that European standards be undermined. Merkel calls these fears as unfounded."

And the Tiroler Tageszeitung Online article adds the German chancellor's support for the more complicated ratification process that would involve votes in all 28 national legislatures within the European Union. It reports (in German), "'I assume that it is a mixed agreement. It is much better that we have a debate in parliament', [Merkel] said. The European Commission sees the agreement as the sole competence of the EU, which is why only the European Parliament would have to agree. Merkel said they did not want to dodge the discussion. Particularly controversial are courts of arbitration for the resolution of conflict cases."

In a Huffington Post op-ed, Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow highlighted that the German chancellor may need to call for CETA negotiations to be reopened given her minority government relies on the support of the Social Democrats who oppose the investor-state dispute settlement provision in the deal, as well as due to the growing opposition in Germany to a U.S.-EU 'free trade' deal. Barlow says, "Merkel's reasons for needing CETA to be reopened may be less principled, but they nevertheless present a challenge for Harper and an opportunities for people in Canada and Europe concerned about the power that would be given to transnational corporations in these yet-to-be ratified deals."

To read Barlow's commentary Merkel's Political Imperatives Spell Trouble for Canada, please click here.

Photo: European Council/flickr

Like this article? Chip in to keep stories likes these coming.

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.

Comments

We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:

Do

  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.

Don't

  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.