There is a saying that all good things are worth waiting for, and CETA is one of them. The EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, known as CETA, was negotiated for 7 full years and debated extensively in Europe and in Canada over that entire period.
This week, the European Parliament has given the green light to the agreement with a strong majority. This final vote marks the end of a long process of engagement by the European Parliament, starting with close scrutiny and dialogue with the European Commission and stakeholders throughout the CETA negotiations, and ending with their final assessment of the CETA outcomes.
This now confirms that all European institutions are supporting fully the benefits that CETA will bring to the European economy. And it does also send a very important message at the current juncture: Europe is open for business and determined to promote its international competitiveness through high quality trade agreements. Moreover, very importantly, both Europe and Canada firmly are saying no to protectionism. This is certainly good news for the life sciences industry.
International trade is a key driver of growth, jobs and competitiveness for the research-based pharmaceutical sector in Europe. This underpins our industry’s mission to develop life-saving innovative treatments for patients around the globe, and this is why the pharmaceutical sector supports CETA. Our industry has also been waiting patiently for meaningful outcomes from the CETA negotiations and contributing ideas and proposals throughout the negotiations, as were other European stakeholders. In particular, EFPIA, working in tandem with our sister association in Canada, Innovative Medicines Canada, has advocated for tangible improvements in Canada’s IP regime for pharmaceuticals, requesting it to be brought closer in line with that of the EU, and actually, that of other OECD economies. We consider that CETA has successfully addressed some of these important gaps, and we seek to explain why here. It is also true that there were some compromises made and that issues remain in Canada’s IP framework that can be further improved. As trade experts know, trade agreements are not a panacea for all ills; however, they represent important stepping stones to much-needed, domestic reforms.
Moving forward, it is now time for CETA’s implementation, and to realise all its benefits. What’s more, we should not forget that it is also time for CETA’s ratification by national and regional parliaments across Europe. These important debates will benefit from actual facts and real-time data regarding CETA’s impact on society and the economy, stemming from the ongoing provisional implementation, which will in turn dispel effectively many of the myths and unfounded fears that populated the CETA public debate in the last years. This being the case, debates will of course need to favour real facts and not be polluted by dogmatic and broader political debates that go well beyond the boundaries of trade policy.
If done swiftly, and in line with the letter and spirit of the agreement, CETA’s implementation will prove to us all that it has well been worth the wait!7