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22 September 2017

France will ensure CETA’s compliance with European standards on health and the environment

The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between the European Union and Canada (CETA), signed on 30 October 2016 after five years of negotiations, enters into force provisionally before its final ratification by all countries concerned.
 
In order to ensure full transparency and in accordance with the commitments made by the President of the Republic, on 8 September a committee of independent experts submitted a report on the environmental and health impacts of CETA to the Prime Minister.

This report follows the decision of the Constitutional Council of 31 July 2017 finding that CETA complies with the French Constitution. It indicates that CETA could admittedly have been more ambitious where the environment and health are concerned, but above all the report underlines that real progress is achieved in this agreement.

The following key elements should also be noted:
  • the ability of States to regulate in the areas of health and the environment is preserved in principle;
  • there is a transparent mechanism in place for regulating investor-State disputes, in the form of a public court system for investments comprising a Court of First Instance and a Court of Appeal;
  • the terms for implementing the agreement will be decisive.
The report does not thus identify any risk in the provisions of CETA which would lead to any opposition to this provisional application of the agreement and which would call into question France’s signature on 30 October 2016. 

Given the positive and balanced outcome of the negotiations, CETA will benefit various sectors of the economy and create numerous opportunities for French businesses, which will promote employment. This agreement will therefore be a win for France, both for businesses that will be able to export and for consumers who will have access to lower prices.

However, in view of the reservations made by the Committee in relation to health and the environment, France will ensure, within the EU and in liaison with Canada, that the agreement is implemented in complete conformity with European standards in the areas of health and the environment. The Government also undertakes to ensure corrective measures are taken, including any revision clauses that apply to CETA.

Beyond that, in the coming weeks, the Government will present a detailed action plan based on the recommendations made by the Committee and discussed, in particular, with NGOs, to strengthen European standards and bilateral requirements between Canada and the European Union in the areas of health and the environment. In particular, Canada will be a key partner for the ambitious and rapid implementation of the Paris Agreement.