CETA: Has Europe already experienced an economic “end of the history”?


After the leaders of the post World War 2 era of the Old continent have agreed upon creating a European Steel and Coal Community, not many people could ever think that it will evolve into the most successful integration project in the modern world`s history. With expectations to make peace on the European territory, they have created an “end of the history entity”, the concept developed later on, in Francis Fukuyama`s famous book “The end of the history and the last man”. The economic integration spilled over into all key economic areas of cooperation, including free trade market among the EU`s member states. Four EU economic freedoms became the most notable template for other integration processes occurring nowadays.

A relatively new introduced Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) is a potentially the most controversial agreement the EU has ever signed with any third party. This Canadian initiative to open an almost unique free trade market in the North transatlantic space has culminated when the EU accepted this proposal and entered into an elbow grease negotiation process with Canada. The agreement represents the re melius perpensa version of any supranational agreement among the EU member states in economic sphere. But what`s in stake with this Euro-ideal inspired project? Why hasn`t it enacted completely and have the EU`s principles fallen into ironical state of their own existence?

The starting idea was to create a completely free common market between the EU and Canada. It has been further expanded by the list of areas in which the EU as a single entity could cooperate with Canada.

However, not everything went smoothly. As the negotiations between the 28 member states of the EU and Canada concerning free trade zone, were concluded in 2014, numerous obstacles in entering the Agreement into force were put on the both sides` agendas.

The Agreement was about to regulate economic relations at the macro and micro level between more than 550 million inhabitants from the both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. It was supposed to stipulate both economic deals and to relax the most of the trade tariffs between the EU28 and Canada. At the beginning of the year, some Canadian experts assessed that more than 98% of all custom tariffs between the EU and Canada would have become completely revoked. (Un)fortunately, CETA has not been entered into force. The economic end of the history for both Canadians and Europeans was near its implementation in practice.

Federalization of the FDIs?

As the EU has launched a 315 billion dollars investment plan, the question of the EU economic role worldwide has been opened. Beside the feasible willingness of the European Union to become a global actor in the security and defence field, the economic component of this plan is doubtless supported by the Plan implemented by the EU Fund for Strategic investments. The initial idea was to attract the foreign direct investments (FDIs) at the all 28 member states. But, it turned out that the EU has become the subject, an investor worldwide. Its investments became federalized. The EU member states are very dynamic when it comes to the trading with Canada. But why the EU citizens refuse the CETA? If they are living at the “economic end of the history”, with no conflicts, with a single market, why Europe has experienced dozens of protests against the CETA, during the last several months?

How comprehensive is CETA actually?

The “comprehensive role” which CETA brought upon has always been stressed by the high EU officials during the negotiations. There is no doubt that the Agreement idea was to provide comprehensiveness in economic cooperation. But is there a true comprehensiveness within the Agreement`s stipulations?

It actually stipulates cooperation development in the following areas: job security, labour rights harmonization, consumer protection, food safety, foreign investor protection, banking regulation and lists the set of all other significant macro areas. Taking into account all those areas of cooperation, it is for sure that there is an economic love at first sight between the two sides. Political component and willingness to implement the agreement is, however, being missed. Both Canadian and the EU leaders have hailed to provide stronger support by their own public.

Has an Old Continent experienced an economic end of the history?  

The point of view is a very interesting in European sense. The Europeans have agreed to have a shared common market among themselves, but not between their supranational entity and the third state. This is the best reflection on the ironical state of the key EU economic principles. It the Europeans have achieved “an end of the history”, does that mean that they should be able to achieve it in even higher level or the “end” is limited and represents the exclusive right only for Europe? It is for sure that not only people all over the EU have been protesting against the CETA, but some government officials have advocated against this agreement. The agreement has eventually not entered into force neither the Europeans were ready for an “economic end of the history” entrance into force.

picture-alliance/K. Ohlenschläger

picture-alliance/K. Ohlenschläger

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