Evidence of meeting #34 for International Trade in the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was negotiations.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Steve Verheul  Chief Trade Negotiator, Canada-European Union, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
  • Jason Langrish  Executive Director, Canada Europe Roundtable for Business
  • José Isaías Rodríguez García-Caro  Member of the Committee, European Economic and Social Committee
  • Sandy Boyle  President, International Relations Section, European Economic and Social Committee
  • Jean-François Bence  Director, Consultative Works, European Economic and Social Committee
  • Rose D'Sa  Member, European Economic and Social Committee

5:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Lee Richardson

Yes, please do. Go ahead.

November 15th, 2010 / 5:35 p.m.

Dr. Rose D'Sa Member, European Economic and Social Committee

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I detected in your question, Mr. Julian, a possible note of criticism, in that you were concerned about the possible negative impact, either socially or environmentally, of any proposed trade agreement between the EU and Canada. Therefore I wanted to stress that our purpose in coming here from Brussels was to say that European civil society organizations, or what you might call stakeholder bodies, are very keen to discuss with their Canadian counterparts any possible negative impacts this trade agreement might have either on Canada or on the European Union. We think if we discuss in an open and transparent way all our respective interests, we will have a much better chance of influencing the draft document in a positive way. As you have heard from Sandy, we have very extensive consultation plans over the next three days, and we fully intend to consult both people who are pro and those who are against this agreement, because we feel that the European Union and Canada have a huge amount of mutual interests, common values, and a common desire to be prosperous in the longer term, in terms of world prosperity and world trade.

If we as people with common values cannot negotiate with each other, then all is lost. So our purpose in coming here is to make sure that we have the best possible agreement, that we avoid putting contentious issues under the table or under the carpet. We want to raise them, bring them out in the open, and deal with them in a very constructive and transparent way. Our understanding from our Canadian counterparts so far is that the mechanisms here have been transparent, and that the involvement of the provinces has been a path-breaking initiative on the Canadian side.

We represent 27 countries with very different political and economic backgrounds, and if we can work together and you can work together, we could have a fantastic trade agreement. That's why we're here.

5:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Lee Richardson

Hear, hear.

Thank you very much. I'd love to wrap up on that positive note. Thank you very much for that.

We have time for one more. Go ahead, Mr. Keddy, for two minutes, please.

5:35 p.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

Two minutes it is, Mr. Chairman.

Welcome to our guests. Although the discussion has been very brief, it has been very positive.

We very much look at this as a very comprehensive agreement. At the end of the day, it will hopefully be the most comprehensive agreement we've ever signed. We look to a fair and equitable conclusion for both the European Union and for Canada.

We will need to continue to negotiate a number of issues. One of the difficulties I'm trying to wrap my head around as a member of Parliament is how we can have investor protection for investments by Canadians in Europe and by Europeans in Canada, enable ongoing fair business dialogue and business practices to occur, and still protect that investment should member states decide--individually or together, for whatever reason--to penalize that investment.

In a nutshell, how do we promote good behaviour and penalize bad behaviour, yet promote trade at the same time? I don't think we're quite there yet.

5:35 p.m.

President, International Relations Section, European Economic and Social Committee

Sandy Boyle

I'll give José Isaías an opportunity, because he is the final one to say a few words.

5:35 p.m.

Member of the Committee, European Economic and Social Committee

José Isaías Rodríguez García-Caro

Thank you very much. I will continue in French.

Your question was very interesting. I have with me a joint draft letter that we, that is, the European and Canadian employer organizations, are working on. The letter will touch on certain topics that are important to us, one of which is the protection of intellectual property.

There are more points we agree on than points we disagree on. Certain elements will have to be considered along the way, but they should not prevent us in any way from concluding this agreement. Our opinion covers issues we must try to resolve before the agreement is finalized. The scope of the agreement is so important to us, and the European Union-Canada relations are very solid.

Canada is a strategic country. We think that this fact should not stand in the way of anything, even though we have differences from an organizational standpoint. We are a civil partnership established by the European Union and we don't even have any Canadian counterparts, but, frankly, this is a major risk that we are ready to take.

What you are saying, thanks to the discussions and the willingness to conclude a very ambitious and comprehensive agreement, should help us finalize the agreement. We want to do that as soon as possible.

Thank you.

5:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Lee Richardson

Thank you very much.

Mr. Boyle, I want to say thank you again to the committee. I'm going to let you wrap it up, but this has been very helpful. It has been very fortuitous for the committee that we found the time and that you were able to find some time in your busy schedule to have this opening exchange with us. It's been very helpful, and with that I'd ask you to close.

5:40 p.m.

President, International Relations Section, European Economic and Social Committee

Sandy Boyle

I think from our perspective we would simply wish to echo what you said. We are very grateful indeed for the opportunity to be here.

The point I started on was the point I think I can finish on. We would hope that in the course of the negotiations, there is a recognition—which I believe will be forthcoming from the European side—and a recognition from our Canadian counterparts in Parliament that there is a role, and an ongoing role post the agreement itself, for the type of structure I was outlining, where we could establish some form of joint body. I think the argument is that if we can get it in the Central American agreement, if we can get it in Korea, and we can get it in CARIFORUM, there should be absolutely no obstacle to having one with Canada, where we are far, far closer culturally and have far, far closer ties than we do with some other areas.

There is real value, we believe, in coming together, as I've described in mentioning the civil society contacts and this important role of evaluation in the implementation era. It's an important part of the jigsaw. I'm not arguing that it's any more than that, but that from our perspective, it was really one of the key areas coming from civil society that we included in our opinion. It's one of the areas we're here to try to explore. The thing I am pleased about is that the partners with whom we've discussed this to this date—and I can't talk for everyone yet, because we have not met them all—share the potential benefits that could come from such a structure. We may get a different view from others. We have to wait and see until we see the entire representation.

Thank you very much for the opportunity, and we can only hope that there is a continuing positive dialogue between the EU and Canada that bears fruit. Thank you very much indeed.

5:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

5:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Lee Richardson

Thank you, Mr. Boyle.

And with that, ladies and gentlemen, I'll wish our witnesses Godspeed, and thank you again for coming.

We are adjourned.