Merkel's coalition partner gives backing to EU-Canada trade deal

Germany's Social Democrats (SPD) - junior coalition partner to Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) - agreed Monday to back the EU-Canada trade deal CETA after some convincing from their party leader.

The majority of around 250 SPD delegates at a party conference in Wolfsburg voted to support the controversial deal, dpa has learned.

Critics say the deal to eliminate 98 per cent of tariffs, allowing the free flow of goods and services between Canada and EU member states, would give multinational corporations undue power in European markets.

SPD leader and Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel brought sceptics from his own ranks on board by promising greater inclusion for national parliaments and other interest groups in the negotiating process.

The party did not give an exact breakdown of the result. Gabriel said two-thirds of the delegates came out in favour of CETA.

Gabriel has been a vocal proponent of the deal and Monday's vote was interpreted as a referendum on his hopes of challenging Merkel in next year's general election.

Merkel's governing coalition requires the support of the left-leaning SPD in order to support CETA. The party's vote to back the move keeps EU officials' push for its temporary implementation in late October on track.

The vote comes as public support for CETA and the much larger Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the EU and the US is flagging on both sides of the Atlantic.

Some 320,000 people rallied against the trade deals in Berlin, Frankfurt, Cologne, Stuttgart, Hamburg, Leipzig and Munich on Saturday.

In depth coverage

German rallies attract 320,000 protesting trade deals with US, Canada

Tens of thousands of protesters carrying placards and banners braved rainy weather in cities across Germany on Saturday to march against the European Union's efforts to sign new far-reaching trade deals with both the United States and Canada.

Read more
Last update: Sat, 17/09/2016 - 21:39
Last update: Mon, 19/09/2016 - 19:30
Author: 

More from Europe

Austria's Green candidate for president defeats far-right rival

Austrians opted for a pro-European president by electing Green candidate Alexander Van der Bellen on Sunday with 53....

Hero to zero? Italy's Renzi puts career on the line in referendum

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi risks becoming Europe's youngest political has-been if Sunday's constitutional...

Ten facts about Italy's constitutional referendum

Italians will vote Sunday on a constitutional referendum that could result in major institutional changes or trigger...

Austrian presidential candidates optimistic as country repeats vote

The far-right and Green contenders for the Austrian presidency were both optimistic on Sunday as citizens cast their...

Van der Bellen, a fervent European with an immigrant background

Green presidential candidate Alexander Van der Bellen looked very presidential in May when he declared his election...