Schubert Commission on the EU/Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA)

Just before the provisional application of CETA began, the French government commissioned a committee to assess the health and environmental risks. Submitted on September 7, 2017, to Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, the Schubert Commission’s report alerted to regulatory divergences and the absence of mirror clauses.

To clarify uncertainties about the expected impact of the agreement between the EU and Canada on the environment, climate, and health, the Government requested a commission of expert and independent personalities to analyze its content.

This multidisciplinary commission, chaired by Katheline Schubert, professor at the Paris School of Economics - Université Paris, notably highlighted in its September 2017 report the issue of regulatory divergences between the EU and Canada in the agricultural sector.

"Farming practices are very different in the EU and in Canada". Yet the agreement "is silent on the questions of animal well-being, and feedstuffs of animal origin (meat-and-bone meal or no?) and the use of antibiotics as growth promoters".

"It appears that there is nothing in the CETA agreement relating to:

- Animal feed (such as the use of animal bone meal and GMO maize and soya, pesticide residues.. )

- the use of veterinary medication (notably antibiotics) in livestock farming,

- animal welfare (rearing, transport, and slaughter)."

Therefore, "it is not possible to entirely exclude the risk of undermining the EU regulatory framework concerning food, animal health and welfare, plant protection and living intellectual property (...)"

The Commission expresses concerns regarding maximum residue limits, which is the maximum limit of a chemical substance that a product can contain to enter the soil of the European Union. : "it is a concern that the co-operation procedures towards harmonization of the maximum residue limits (MRL) for pesticides in agricultural food products may lead to downward harmonization."

The liberalization of trade in such a context of regulatory divergences could have a negative impact on European farmers:

"Because of trade liberalization, European farmers could be penalized by higher production costs, due to European rules that often require technical processes which are more expensive when it comes to equipment and/or labour, non-remunerative investments (such as manure processing or improved livestock buildings) or higher transport costs".

"Liberalizing trade with a country where phytosanitary requirements are lower than in the EU could have an impact on the acceptance and implementation by European farmers of practices that use farm inputs more economically - a process which is far from easy, as shown by the difficulties experienced with the implementation of the Écophyto plan in France".

Thus, the report concluded:

"Based on the conclusions of the European Council meeting of 21 October 2016 which indicates that "EU trade interests include fully defending and promoting the social, environmental and consumer standards that are central to the European way of life", reciprocal measures should be introduced into European legislation with the aim of avoiding distortions caused by free trade agreements".

See the full report of the Commission Schubert

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