Canada and the Eurozone Crisis

10 11 2011

As frequent readers of this blog will know, Canada and the European Union are in the process of negotiating a free trade agreement, commonly known as CETA. The negotiations began back in 2009. Canada and the European Union completed the ninth round of talks on 21 October in Ottawa. At the close of last month’s bargaining round, Steve Verheul, who is Canada’s chief negotiator, said that his goal was  to reach an agreement on most of the major issues by early 2012. It sounds as if real progress has been made.

So far, so good. However, an article about the negotiations that appeared in today’s edition of Embassy, an online journal devoted to Canadian diplomacy, speculates that the CETA deal could be derailed by the spiralling debt crisis in the Eurozone, which is throwing the continent’s economies and political systems into chaos. The last few days have seen resignation announcements by Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou  and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. As I write this, the European Commission has just announced that it is cutting its growth estimate for the European economy. The bad economic and political news is coming now in a seemingly continuous stream. The sovereign debt crisis has raised some really profound questions about the whole nature of the European political system and the nature of democratic legitimacy. Some of Europe’s leaders believe that the best way to respond to the crisis is change the EU’s political system and move even further away from national sovereignty: France and Germany are certainly pushing for closer integration of economic and fiscal policies in the euro zone (i.e., the right of European Commission to veto national budgets). Read more here and here. To add to the atmosphere of crisis, Ed Milliband, the leader of the British Labour Party, has called for an emergency super summit of EU leaderson the grounds that the existing political institutions of Europe are broken.

What does all of this mean for Canada and the CETA agreement? In the current climate, it is increasingly difficult to predict what sort of condition the European economy will be in in 2012, when the CETA agreement is finalized and presented to their respective governments for ratification. Indeed, it will be hard to predict who will be in power in many of the European countries and what their attitudes to trade liberalization may be.

The recent events in the Eurozone underscore the need to reflect on and to discuss the CETA agreement and what it might do for both Canada and the EU. It is, therefore, a fitting time to gather to talk about CETA.

Next Friday, 18 November 2011, a small conference on CETA will be taking place in London. Full details of the conference are available here. To attend the conference, you must pre-register by 15 November.


Canada-EU Trade Agreement Conference, London, UK, 18 November 2011

14 10 2011

Macdonald House

Since 2009, diplomats from Canada and the European Union have been in negotiations to produce a comprehensive trade agreement known as CETA. For people in the EU, the agreement would provide improved access to the Canadian market, a relatively small but prosperous country. For Canadians, CETA is perhaps more important, for it provides alternatives to export dependency on the United States. I’ve blogged extensively about this agreement.

The negotiations have been protracted and have involved eight rounds of bargaining. For a chronology of the process, see here. For press coverage, see here, here, and here. For a recent C.D. Howe Institute study on the agreement, “Go Big or Go Home: Priorities for the Canada-EU Economic and Trade Agreement”, see here.

Two days from now, on 17 October, the ninth round of negotiations will begin. We are told that this will be the final round. It is now a good time for academics to discuss the agreement and its implications for Canadians and Europeans. A small conference about CETA has been organized. It will take place at Macdonald House in London, UK on 18 November.

Programme: Canada-EU Trade Agreement Conference

18 November 2011, Macdonald House, Grosvenor Square, London

12:45pm Registration

1pm Brian Parrot,  Minister Counsellor (Commercial and Economic), Canadian High Commission. Welcome statement.

1:10pm  Stefania Paladini, Coventry Business School, “FTAs: an Overview ” (10 minutes plus 10 minutes for discussion)

1:30pm Alan Hallsworth  and Tim Rooth, Portsmouth Business School, University of Portsmouth (20 minutes plus 10 minutes for discussion). “Protectionism and Prudence:

A European perspective on Canadian international economic policy since the 1930s

2:00pm Malcolm Fairbrother, Lecturer in Global Policy and Politics, University of Bristol. “Canadian Trade Policies from the FTA to the CETA: Myths and Facts” (20 minutes for presentation, 10 minutes for Q&A)

2:30pm Andrew Smith, Coventry University. “Applying the Concepts of Cultural Distance and Imagined Communities to Understanding Canadian Economic Diplomacy”  (20 minutes for presentation, 10 minutes for Q&A)


3:15pm Keynote Speaker: Robert Hage, (Senior Fellow at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa and former Canadian diplomat), “Changing Canada: the Canada-EU Free Trade Agreement.”   (20 minutes for presentation, 10 minutes for Q&A)

3:45pm Roundtable Discussion

4:15pm Conference Ends

If you are interested in attending, please RSVP Andrew Smith before 15 November 2011. ab035 at

This conference has been generously supported by Coventry University and the London Canadian Studies Association (LoCSA). The assistance of the Canadian High Commission has been absolutely essential. I would also like to thank Michael Kandiah, King’s College, University of London for his great help in organizing this conference.

A note about our keynote speaker: Robert Hage is a Senior Fellow at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa.    Mr. Hage was a Canadian diplomat with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade for 38 years and served as Canada’s Ambassador to Hungary and Slovenia, as Director General for Europe and Director General for Legal Affairs. He also served in Canada’s Embassies in Washington, Lagos, Paris and as Deputy Head of Mission in the Canadian Mission to the European Union in Brussels.

In Ottawa, Mr. Hage was also the Director of four divisions including International Financial and Investment Affairs and  relations with the European Union. He was Principal Counsel for the Canada-USA Free Trade Agreement, Counsel on the Environmental Side Agreement to NAFTA and was a representative for Canada at the United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea.

Mr. Hage was born in Calgary, Alberta and received his early education there.  He is a graduate of the following universities: University of Calgary, University of Toronto (LL.B), University College London (LL.M) and the École Nationale d’Administration (ENA) in Paris.