I receive hundreds of emails a month from constituents asking for my views on CETA (The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between the EU and Canada). Here’s my response to each of these messages.

CETA is still not actually a trade agreement in force – it would need to be ratified by the European Parliament before coming into effect.  Nevertheless, it is a problematic trade agreement because the EU has concluded it in the interests of the EU – meaning the varied self-interests of 28 EU Member States.  The European Commission, not the UK, negotiates the trade agreements in which we take part.  Indeed, we had to renounce a trade agreement with Canada and other Commonwealth countries when we joined what was then the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1975.

Unsurprisingly, CETA is an enormous trade agreement – the draft CETA text is 1,600 pages long – that, in certain sections, undermines national sovereignty.  The agreement contains provisions on investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) – an extrajudicial court system that allows foreign corporations to sue sovereign governments.  This inclusion of ISDS came despite roughly 97 percent of responses to the European Commission’s “consultation” on ISDS being negative.  The draft text also contains chapters on labour rights and environmental protection – these elements tend to politicise trade by using our commercial strength to serve the EU’s political agenda.

The CETA negotiations have been opaque, in addition to the undemocratic measures mentioned above, prove just how unaccountable the EU has become.

Now that the UK is to formally begin leaving the EU, based on the referendum result of the 23rd of June, the UK will be able to conduct trade negotiations in her own interest. Indeed, only a week after the results, we saw Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Mexico and others racing to be the first nations to strike trade deals with the UK.

If you still have questions please do not hesitate to contact me at nathan.gill@europarl.europa.eu