The European Commission has confirmed that it will be seeking approval from the individual governments of the EU member states for a new free trade agreement (FTA) between the EU and Canada.
Following discussions, the commission has decided to propose the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) for signature as a mixed agreement, which requires the consent of the European Parliament and all member states through the relevant national ratification procedures.
Earlier reports had indicated that the EU may seek to push the deal through without requiring the ratification of the national parliaments in order to accelerate its progress. Indeed, it was noted that from a strictly legal standpoint, the Commission considers this agreement to fall under exclusive EU competence.
However, a number of member states have specifically requested the right to sign off on the agreement before it is signed, leading the European Commission to urge these countries to "show leadership" by championing its progress to their respective parliaments and publics.
European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said: "The trade agreement between the EU and Canada is our best and most progressive trade agreement and I want it to enter into force as soon as possible."
EU trade commissioner Cecila Malmstrom added: "CETA is a milestone in European trade policy. It will help to generate much-needed growth and jobs while fully upholding Europe's high standards in areas like food safety, environmental protection and people's rights at work."
The deal is set to scrap almost all customs duties from day one, potentially saving EU firms hundreds of millions of euros a year in duty payments, while also facilitating trade in services and creating new market access routes.
It will also provide better access for European suppliers of services to the Canadian market and make it easier for these suppliers to travel between the EU and Canada to connect with customers, in addition to allowing EU companies to bid for Canadian public contracts at all levels of government for the first time.