On the same day that the French Senate issued a cross party report that insists that the UK cannot be granted a better deal as an ex-EU state than it currently enjoys, the European Parliament has approved Ceta.
Ceta (the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement between the EU and Canada) has taken eight years to negotiate and, despite a hiccough gaining EU state approval when a Belgian regional government raised objections, now moves to partial implementation. The approval of the EU parliament means that tariffs on goods traded between the EU and Canada will be reduced, but the most controversial aspect, the investor court system, still requires ratification by EU state and regional governments which could delay full implementation for years to come. The motion to approve Ceta passed by 408 to 254 votes.
Ultimately, Ceta will remove 99% of tariffs on non-farm goods traded between the EU and Canada, affecting €63.5 billion in trade. Proponents say that this will stimulate job creation and economic growth on both sides of the Atlantic. Opponents to the deal claim that the investor court (if ratified) could allow firms to sue governments if new policies affect business decisions made in the previous circumstances. They worry that Ceta may lower environmental protection standards and worker rights under current employment legislation.
Given that President Trump has determined that TTIP, a sister agreement between the US and the EU will not go ahead and has pulled out on a similar Pacific treaty and is arguing for reforms to NAFTA, this could be the zenith for regional free trade deals for the coming years.