Berlin The Bundestag has ratified the Ceta transatlantic trade agreement with Canada. A majority of MPs voted in favor of the agreement on Thursday. Germany has its trade policy voice back, Federal Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) rejoiced on Wednesday with a view to the following day. His State Secretary Franziska Brantner told the Handelsblatt on Thursday: “In a geopolitically tense time, we turn to the world and protect the climate.”
Since 2017, Ceta has been in the so-called provisional application, the direct facilitation for trade has already been in force. However, these only apply in areas for which the EU alone is responsible and not its member states. The other parts are on hold pending ratification. The EU still lacks approval from several countries, including Germany so far.
Germany, specifically certain parts of the federal government, had resisted the passages relating to this national law for a long time. Only the grand coalition, including the traffic light government, failed to reach an agreement for around a year.
While the SPD and FDP absolutely wanted to ratify the agreement, the Greens have been bothered for years by the part of the agreement that requires national ratification. It is about the capital for investment protection.
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Katharina Dröge, now leader of the Greens parliamentary group, was considered one of the leaders of the anti-Ceta movement. Greens and environmental organizations fear that with Ceta, investors can also sue at separate arbitral tribunals against climate protection measures of the states involved.
What the compromise looks like
There are several reasons why the Greens were able to change their minds. The coalition negotiated for months. With a so-called “interpretation declaration”, which is intended to restrict the said passages of investment protection, the Greens were eventually convinced that they would agree to Ceta after all.
SDP Group Vice President Lukas Köhler told the Handelsblatt: “The interpretation statement is not just cosmetic. It’s good that they exist, even if they weren’t absolutely necessary from the point of view of the FDP.
The Ceta Compromise was part of a package. In particular, the Greens got Germany’s exit from the controversial Energy Charter Treaty, which the federal cabinet had already decided on Wednesday.
Ceta and the Energy Charter are part of a trade agenda that has now also been decided. It also includes a deepening of EU-US trade relations and a plan to advance agreements with Chile and Mexico.
In addition, sustainability standards are to be anchored as standard in future trade agreements. Brantner said: “There is no or or between consistent climate protection and good trade policy – this attitude, characterized by a will to international exchange and climate protection, has united and carried us.”
>> Read here: Are you jeopardizing Germany’s energy supply, Mr. Habeck?
Until the parts of Ceta that have not yet come into force come into force, all other EU member states still have to agree. Eleven states have not yet done so. FDP man Köhler is certain: “Various countries have been waiting for the decision from Germany. Now Ceta will get going.”
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