Jean-Claude Juncker.jpg

A wide-ranging trade deal between Canada and the European Union should not require approval from the bloc's national parliaments, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told EU leaders on Tuesday, despite pressure from member states.

The deal, reached in October 2013, was at the time described by the EU as a "landmark achievement for the transatlantic economy" and a stepping stone for a free trade agreement with the United States. It is the largest such accord ever pursued by Canada.

Canada and the EU now hope to sign the deal in October, once it has undergone the necessary approvals on both sides of the Atlantic.

Many EU governments want their parliaments to weigh in on the deal, amid growing public opposition to the parallel, but bigger, trade deal being negotiated with the US, known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

But Juncker told EU leaders on Tuesday that CETA falls within the exclusive competence of the bloc and therefore needs not be ratified by national parliaments, sources in Brussels told dpa.

It would, however, be scrutinized by EU lawmakers and ministers from all member states, Juncker added. The EU currently has 28 member states, but Britain voted last week to leave the bloc.

However, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that she would ask parliament in Berlin to weigh in on the matter, noting that there were good reasons to involve national legislators. The commission had only given its legal opinion, she noted at summit talks in Brussels.

Juncker's argument is that allowing national parliaments to vet the agreement would paralyze the process and put the bloc's credibility to negotiate trade deals at stake, according to the sources.

There are estimates that it could take as many as four years for CETA to get through the EU's national parliaments.

Member states could jointly reject the view of the commission, a move which would threaten to block the CETA ratification process for an indeterminate period.

Critics worry that CETA and TTIP could allow corporations to block undesirable regulations, while many fear the deal being sought with the US would also water down consumer protections.

Britain's expected departure from the EU has also raised fresh questions over the deals, as London has been one of the bloc's strongest proponents of free trade.

On Monday, EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom stressed the bloc's commitment to the trade negotiations, despite the "unprecedented situation" facing the bloc.

Related stories

Latest news

Croat member of Bosnia's state presidency says crisis won't escalate

The Croat member of Bosnia and Herzegovina's collective State Presidency, Dragan Covic, said on Friday that the crisis caused by the unilateral submission of a request for a review of the International Court of Justice's (ICJ) genocide ruling from 2007 against Serbia would not escalate into an armed conflict.

IAEA: Iran's enriched uranium stock far below allowed limit

Iran's stockpile of enriched uranium is currently less than half of what is allowed under the Islamic Republic's nuclear agreement with major powers, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported Friday.

Trump attacks media at conservative gathering

US President Donald Trump lambasted the media in remarks to a gathering of conservative activists outside Washington Friday, doubling down on charges that some parts of the press are the "enemy."

Birth anniversary of Croatia's 1st female journalist to be marked

The Centre for Women's Studies, which manages the Marija Juric Zagorka Memorial Apartment and carries out documentary-information, educational and cultural activities related to the study and promotion of the heritage of this novelist and Croatia's first female journalist, stated on Friday that it was marking the 144th anniversary of the birth of Marija Juric Zagorka next week.

Italian police arrest 55 doctors, nurses for being clock-in cheats

Police on Friday arrested 55 doctors, nurses, and other staffers at a Naples public hospital for being clock-in cheats.

Works on new section of Istrian Y motorway in autumn, says minister

Transport and Infrastructure Minister Oleg Butkovic said on Friday works on the second stage of the Istrian Y motorway were expected to begin in the autumn, an investment of EUR 150 million in which Croatian companies would be included.

SDP leader: Brexit, Europe's cross road

Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Davor Bernadic on Friday said at a conference of the Party of European Socialists (PES) that Great Britain's exit is a cross-road for the European Union (EU).

Erdogan, in campaign mode, floats referendum on death penalty

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, while campaigning Friday for a referendum on a constitutional reform package to empower his office, suggested he could put forward another popular vote to reintroduce the death penalty.

S Africa opposition sues government for not arresting Sudan president

South Africa’s main opposition party Friday filed criminal charges against several government and police officials for failing in 2015 to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court.

Project Slavonia one of key government goals, PM says

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic on Friday opened the 22nd international fair of the economy, trades and crafts and agriculture Viroexpo 2017, saying it fit into one of the government's key goals, work on Project Slavonia.

Germany says Russia plan for Reichstag replica 'speaks for itself'

A Russian plan to construct a replica of the Reichstag so that military enthusiasts can re-enact the Red Army's 1945 capture of Berlin is "surprising and speaks for itself," a German government spokeswoman said Friday.

Transport minister does not rule out higher motorway tolls

Commenting on a planned rise in tolls for motorways managed by the state-run HAC motorway operator, Maritime, Transport and Infrastructure Minister Oleg Butkovic on Friday recalled that HAC's debt totalled EUR 5.2 billion, and 1.2 billion of that amount was due this year, which HAC could not pay back from its revenues.