EU parliament votes in favour of trade deal with Canada
The European Union parliament has approved a trade deal with Canada, extolling the pact as a sign of co-operation at a time when many political forces, including U.S. President Donald Trump's administration, are trying to halt globalization.
After three hours of debate on Wednesday and years of negotiations preceding that, the legislature approved the deal by a margin of 408-254 with 33 abstentions.
The vote should close the drawn-out approval process across the 28 member states, where some governments and legislatures had tried to modify or scupper the deal. The Netherlands could still block it if it demands an advisory national referendum on the deal.
The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, known as CETA, is designed to unite the markets of 35 million Canadians with 500 million Europeans.
EU ratification now paves the way for 90 per cent of the agreement to come into force once the Canadian Parliament follows suit in the coming months.
The vote comes as populist parties in Europe and Trump in the U.S. have been looking increasingly inwards, thwarting a trade deal with Pacific countries and floating the idea of tariffs on imports.
The vote also comes a day before Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is scheduled to arrive in Europe to celebrate the vote and push the merits of free trade in the face of increasingly hostile, populist opposition.
Trudeau is to deliver a pro-trade message in an address to the EU Parliament in Strasbourg on Thursday _ a first for a Canadian leader _ and to top business leaders a day later in Germany.
International Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne was already in Strasbourg ahead of the vote.