Brussels – Yesterday evening we met with Steve Verheuil, Canada’s chief negotiator on the CETA deal, along with other DFAIT staff at the hotel where the Canadian delegation is housed.
Verheuil gave us an overview of the first several days of this fourth round of talks and noted that government procurement issues would need to be discussed on Monday and Tuesday of next week.
He indicated that there were areas that had already been settled, areas where there were challenges, and highlighted a few key priorities for the EU.
He noted that negotiators had agreed on eliminating 90 percent of the tariffs between Canada and the EU and were working on the other 10 percent.
Some of the challenges include:
* deciding on a negative list approach (favoured by Canada where everything is covered except that which is noted) or the positive list approach (favoured by the EU where only what is specified is covered)
* services, investment
* the setting of standards
* labour and the environment (“not much progress here yet, not a side agreement but chapters, so that changes this”)
* “dispute settlement discussions are ongoing”
* automobiles, textiles, apparels, ships, chemicals, aluminium, and fish.
He indicated that a list of issues they are “getting stuck on” will be developed and then strategies determined as to how to proceed in those areas.
Verheuil noted that the EU is pushing on:
* procurement (“the number one offensive issue of the EU”)
* intellectual property (the “second biggest EU objective”)
* dairy (so supply management will be a “challenge”)
* food with geographical indicators such as Parma ham (“we haven’t got to this yet”).
Verheuil noted that Canada would do an environmental impact assessment of CETA on Canada as required, and that the EU would be conducting a ‘sustainable development impact assessment’ of the deal on both the EU and Canada.
Many other issues were covered in more detail that I will leave to others to cover with greater specificity – perhaps most notably relating to drinking water. We have another meeting scheduled with Verheuil for this Thursday evening.
For Council of Canadians analysis and ways to take action against CETA, please go to http://www.canadians.org/CETA.
Brent Patterson, Director of Campaigns and Communications, Council of Canadians