Franck Riester announces no vote in National Assembly before European elections on Ceta

Riester Shelves Ceta Ratification in Wake of Senate Rejection, Fears Electoral Politics Will Damage EU-Canada Trade Deal

On Tuesday, Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade Franck Riester announced that the draft ratification of Ceta, a free trade treaty between the EU and Canada, will not be transmitted to the National Assembly before the European elections. The treaty has been applied provisionally since 2017. This decision was made after an embarrassing disappointment for the executive, as the Senate opposed the ratification of the treaty on March 21. A left-right alliance in the Senate caused a setback for the government just before the European elections.

Riester criticized the alliance between communist group and some LR senators in Senate, calling it a political scheme that harms businesses, farmers, wine growers, cheese producers and all those working in French companies exporting to Canada. He defended benefits of Ceta agreement which eliminates most customs duties between EU and Canada and is favorable for France.

The government had initially planned to place text on Assembly table at a later time but communist deputies planned to include it in their reserved parliamentary time scheduled for May 30 in Assembly just ten days before European elections. However, this move was seen as an attempt by opposition groups to exploit debate for electoral purposes.

Riester emphasized need to prevent such actions and stated that bill will be transmitted at appropriate time but not before European elections. The minister also highlighted potential consequences if rejection by National Assembly would put government in complex situation with provisional application of treaty throughout Europe.

Overall Riester’s decision reflects concerns about potential impact of electoral politics on free trade negotiations, as well as determination to protect interests of French businesses and farmers exporting to Canada.

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