From feta to CETA: key facts about EU-Canada deal

After seven years of negotiation, a controversial free trade deal between the European Union and Canada goes into effect on a provisional basis this Thursday.

From feta to CETA: key facts about EU-Canada deal

World Bulletin / News Desk

Here are five things to know about a deal that many see as a potential model for future relations between the EU and Britain after Brexit.

- Not so 'provisional' -

The deal is officially known as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), a cumbersome acronym intended to show that the pact touches on all aspects of the economy, including health and safety rules, and not just the usual cuts to tarrifs and import quotas.

"CETA is -- and I dare to say that -- the best trade agreement the EU has ever negotiated," EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem said last year.

CETA affects 510 million European consumers and 35 million Canadians and even when not completely applied, will eliminate 99 percent of all customs duties between Europe and Canada as of Thursday.

- Limited impact -

The overall effect will however not be that big. According to the European Commission, which handles trade negotiation for the 28 member states, CETA will contribute a mere two billion euros to Europe's colossal 14 trillion euro economy.

The true significance of CETA, officials insist, is the bringing together of like-minded economies to help set new international standards on trade. The EU is seeking to swiftly follow up CETA with an even more ambitious deal with Japan and eventually Australia and New Zealand.

- Europe wins back Feta -

The agreement provides protection in Canada to 143 EU products with so-called "geographical indicators" (GI), such as champagne, Greece's feta cheese and gouda cheese from the Netherlands.

These are only a fraction of the EU's hundreds of protected food products, but Canada's concession is considered a victory by the EU as it offers a clear recognition of the GI system in a full fledged trade deal.

Under CETA, certain Canadian product names that use the GI names will have to be suffixed by "-type" or "-style".

- Brexit -

In talks with the UK's Theresa May, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he would use CETA as a template for a trade relationship with Britain after the UK leaves the bloc in 2019.

But CETA is also floated as a possible blueprint for Britain's own trade deal with the EU after the divorce.

"Ceta is a very good agreement between two willing and flexible partners ... seeking to realise the full potential of the relationship," said Britain's former ambassador to the EU Ivan Rogers.

- No Investment protection -

Missing from CETA for now is the controversial investment protection scheme whereby companies have a recourse to legal arbitration if they believe their rights have been broken by a change in government policy.

A common component of trade deals, the scheme has recently faced fierce opposition by activists who belive it offers multinationals a powerful way to bypass national courts and undo health and environmental regulation.

Investment dispute will only apply once the treaty is completely ratified by the EU's over 30 national and regional parliaments, a process that could take years.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2017, 14:51