The Senate is largely opposed to the ratification of Ceta, a free trade treaty with Canada

The Senate is largely opposed to the ratification of Ceta, a free trade treaty with Canada

Le Sénat s'oppose largement à la ratification du Ceta. MAXPPP – Josselin CLAIR

Les sénateurs français se sont opposés ce jeudi 21 mars 2024 par 211 voix contre 44 à la ratification du traité de libre-échange entre le Canada et l'Union européenne (CETA), un camouflet pour l'exécutif à l'approche des élections européennes.

In a tense climate, the high assembly, thanks to a convenient alliance between the left and the Republicans (LR), rejected article 1 of the CETA ratification bill, article relating to the economic and commercial dimension of the treaty. However, it approved the second and final article relating to the strategic partnership between the EU and Canada by 243 votes to 26. The rejection is therefore recorded.

A deal that divides

This controversial agreement, concluded in 2014, ratified in 2017 by the European Parliament and already partially implemented, provides for the elimination of customs duties on 98% of products traded between the EU and Canada. The communist group in the Senate had included the bill authorizing the ratification of the EU-Canada comprehensive economic and trade agreement in the "parliamentary niche" which is reserved for him.

French farmers, who are maintaining pressure on the government to obtain aid in the face of the crisis in the sector, denounce unfair competition, particularly due to less restrictive health standards in Canada. A situation which also worries environmentalists. The National Bovine Federation (FNB) welcomed the Senate vote in a press release, stressing that the agreement presents a risk because it favors "imports of products not meeting French and European production standards".

The Interprofession Elevage et Viande (INTERBEV) welcomes for its part a"strong signal sent in favor of the protection of French and European standards, whose health, environmental and animal welfare standards are the strictest in the world." For Greenpeace, the Senate vote demonstrates the isolation of Emmanuel Macron in his desperate pursuit of an ultra liberal policy which leads us into a terrible social, democratic and environmental impasse."

The Minister of Foreign Trade, Franck Riester, defended from the podium "a good trade agreement" and accused his detractors "of wrongly fueling unjustified anxieties."

This text is "positive for our agricultural sectors, our wine growers, our cheese producers", he pleaded . The bill authorizing the ratification of the treaty was adopted at first reading, not without difficulty, in July 2019 by the National Assembly (266 votes against 213).

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