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

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

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

That was the final question.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Lee Richardson

That was, and it was a dandy.

We're going to move on. We've got a number of witnesses yet to hear today, so I think we'll do a couple of quick questions. Keep it to two or three minutes. We'll have one from Mr. Silva.

Monsieur Laforest, une autre question? All right.

Two or three minutes, Mr. Silva.

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Davenport, ON

Perhaps you could explain the process to us. I realize that since the Lisbon treaty, Parliament has been given a much more enhanced role in the ability to pass certain legislation and treaties. We're meeting with the European Parliament's international trade committee. Is this the committee the treaty would be going through first, before going to Parliament, and they'd have to approve it as well and amend it, or just consent to it or not consent to it before it goes to Parliament?

4:25 p.m.

Chief Trade Negotiator, Canada-European Union, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Steve Verheul

The international trade committee is the committee the European negotiators are providing updates to on a regular basis. So they'll be the ones most familiar with what's in the eventual agreement and with what's happening in the negotiations. They would take a first look at it and offer their views. After that, when it comes to ratification time for the agreement, the European Parliament as a whole will decide on whether they agree with ratification.

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Davenport, ON

I understand that, but do they go to them first for ratification before going to Parliament?

4:25 p.m.

Chief Trade Negotiator, Canada-European Union, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Steve Verheul

My understanding is that it's not a necessary step.

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Davenport, ON

Okay. So they're providing input but it doesn't go directly to Parliament.

4:25 p.m.

Chief Trade Negotiator, Canada-European Union, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Steve Verheul

That's my understanding.

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Davenport, ON

It bypasses them. Okay.

Given the fact that the seal hunt is a big issue in Europe, and the European Parliament has taken a very active role against the position of Canada, is that going to be an impediment or an issue discussed at upcoming visits? Is that going to be a possible future impediment to ratification, or a condition perhaps to ratify the Canada-EU trade agreement?

4:25 p.m.

Chief Trade Negotiator, Canada-European Union, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Steve Verheul

No. This issue first came up around the same time as the launching of the negotiations in May of 2009. Both sides reached an explicit agreement that we would not allow that issue to distract from the negotiations. So we have not discussed it. We have not tried to do anything on that issue. It is following a separate track through the WTO process that we have initiated on the seal trade.

We don't anticipate it to be a problem or an issue in the negotiations. You may hear about it from the European parliamentarians, because it is an issue, as you've said, that's attracted a fair amount of attention. We have provided separate briefing notes on that for your use.

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Davenport, ON

Thank you.

I have a lot of other questions, but I can ask them in the future. That's fine, Mr. Chair.

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Lee Richardson

We're going to have two more: Mr. Holder, and then we'll conclude with Monsieur Laforest.

Mr. Holder, two or three minutes, please.

November 15th, 2010 / 4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Holder London West, ON

I'd like to thank our guests for attending. I'm not sure whether I should be wearing my sealskin coat and tie to this event. I'm inclined to do that, unless you think it's totally provoking.

Mr. Verheul, you indicated in your presentation that in the 22 areas of negotiations, four are done or parked and four more will be done in January. By my math, that leaves 14 more to be done, and you have scheduled only one more meeting after that, in Ottawa in April. What's your confidence that that will be completed by then?

4:25 p.m.

Chief Trade Negotiator, Canada-European Union, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Steve Verheul

Well, we're not aiming specifically to complete it all by April, although hopefully we will be well advanced towards that. There will probably be a need for further negotiations after April, but they may not necessarily take the form of a full negotiating round. There will be a smaller set of issues to deal with, so there will be a need for a smaller group of negotiators to get together.

Even with the other chapters among the 22, the differences there are now fairly straightforward ones. We know they have a position; we have a different position, and it's a matter of trying to find some common ground or accepting one of the other positions. Those other chapters are not far from being finished; it's just a matter of needing some decisions on some more difficult issues.

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Holder London West, ON

It won't surprise you that there may be different perspectives from different parties around this table on the issues of this trade agreement. To what extent would a divided house, if I can call us that, going to Europe affect the deliberations that you're having?

I ask that question specifically because when this committee made a point of going to Washington before, we agreed that there were four primary areas that we would agree on. We agreed in substance on the direction that we wanted to take those. I would suggest to you that the dialogues that took place were positive and helpful and laid the groundwork for further dialogue.

So I ask the question: if we come with our different perspectives on this, which I think is a healthy process generally, what impact might that have on your negotiations? If we come with different views as members of Parliament, what would be the impact?