november 26, 2021
National parliaments within the EU have been tasked with ratifying the free trade agreement between the bloc and Canada (CETA). But a member of the French National Assembly has argued that French farmers are “threatened” by the deal and has urged Mr Macron to throw it out, despite the fallout this would create within the EU.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon, running to be French President for the third time, wrote on Twitter: “I am against the free trade agreement with Canada which will threaten French farmers.”
Appearing on the TV station BFM, he added that it would be better to “eat less meat and of better quality” than to allow the French food market to be flooded by Canadian goods that would be poised to out-compete French producers.
He said: “French farmers are not to blame. Those who produce in France make quality meat.
“French farmers are threatened by free trade agreements.”
Meanwhile, the Franco-British row over post-Brexit fishing rights rages on, with French fishermen blocking ferry traffic into Channel ports on Friday in frustration at the UK for its refusal to issue more fishing licences.
Talks between France’s Europe Minister Clement Beaune and Britain’s Brexit Minister Lord Frost have yet to reach a conclusion, and now French leaders have another trade headache they must deal with.
Trade talks between Canada and the EU ended in 2014.
The agreement was signed in 2016 but was only entered into force provisionally at the end of 2017.
Full approval is dependent on the ratification by all of the EU’s national parliaments.
Canada’s parliament was quick to approve the deal, but critics argue that this is because Canada comes out better from it than the EU.
CETA removes around 98 percent of duties on most goods, excluding some sensitive agricultural products, according to Europarl.
The French National Assembly has approved CETA, but the Senate has yet to put the agreement on its agenda.
Mr Mélenchon has been a long-time critic of CETA, telling a Foreign Affairs Committee in 2019 that it would not only harm French farmers but will see genetically modified food enter the French market.
FoodWatch has highlighted that the deal focuses more on the elimination of health and environmental standards which could act as barriers to free movement than on the removal of customs duties.
France is not the only country to have issued criticism against the trade deal.
There has also been backlash from Irish politicians, with an official from the Irish Social Democrat party arguing earlier this year that “the benefits are lopsided”.
Jennifer Whitmore wrote in The Irish Times: “While Irish exports to Canada are expected to be 31 percent higher by 2030, imports from Canada will increase by 84 percent.”