Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has hailed the massive trade pact between his country and the European Union, known as CETA, as a blueprint for more ambitious deals in the future.
In the first address by a Canadian leader to the European Parliament, Trudeau said on Thursday that people on both sides of the Atlantic could benefit from the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).
He said that CETA would create jobs and boost the middle class both in Canada and in the EU states.
"Trade that is free and fair means that we can make the lives of our citizens more affordable,” said Trudeau.
He said that CETA could be a "blueprint" for future trade deals, adding that it was the outcome of Europe's and Canada's shared history and values.
“If we are successful, CETA will become the blueprint for all ambitious, future trade deals," Trudeau said, adding, “If we are not, this could very well be one of the last.”
CETA, which was approved by the European Parliament on Wednesday, has faced criticism in the EU, with many, especially among the middle class, saying it could ruin many of their jobs as too much power would be given to the multinationals. Free-trade critics hope national and regional parliaments in the EU would block the deal's implementation.
Trudeau also said during his Thursday address that CETA included provisions that would allow governments to protect their citizens and workforce, adding that "trade needs to work for people."
CETA goes into provisional effect as early as April. The pact removes barriers on all traded goods and services, although a few restrictions remain for some products in the sectors of agriculture, transport and public services.
The pact has also its strong supporters, with many hailing it as a hedge against protectionism and stagnation.