Earlier this week, we completed the legal revision and final modifications of the free trade agreement between the EU and Canada (CETA). We have agreed with Canada to modify the chapter on investment, in line with the new system for investment protection that the Commission presented last fall.
Through these modifications, we now further safeguard governments' rights to regulate for the protection of their citizens, moving away from the old ISDS system toward a permanent, transparent dispute settlement tribunal. Appointments of independent judges will be transparent, with clear ethical rules. An appeal procedure will also be introduced. The result is a fair and open system for the protection of investments, in line with demands from the European Parliament, EU governments and civil society.
Unfortunately, the complicated debate about investment protection has until now obscured the contents and benefits of the CETA deal. I hope that these final modifications will bring the debate back to the effects that the agreement can be expected to have on our European economy, through the opening of markets. Lower prices and greater supply will be of direct benefit to consumers. And let me underline that CETA does not change EU standards and regulations on consumer safety, product safety, consumer protection, health, environment or labour provisions in any way. Imports from Canada must comply with EU product rules in full - no exceptions.
CETA gets rid of customs duties, bringing opportunities to European companies, particularly the small and medium-sized ones. Assessments show that the removal of tariffs will lead to European exporters saving an estimated 470 million euros per year only in the field of industrial goods, for example. CETA is also by far the most ambitious services agreement undertaken by the EU. And in sectors such as environmental services, telecom, and finance, EU companies will be able to bid for public contracts on both federal, regional and local levels - a considerable advantage. The agreement also simplifies the temporary relocation of workers between the EU and Canada.
We have also agreed to accept compliance assessment certificates between the EU and Canada, in sectors such as electrical products, radio equipment, toys, machinery and industrial equipment. This means that the EU can test European products for exports to Canada, according to Canadian rules and vice versa, thereby avoiding duplicate testing and overlapping bureaucracy. This, in turn, reduces costs for companies and consumers alike. Again, this will be particularly significant for smaller companies that don't necessarily have the resources to afford testing on both sides of the Atlantic.
We now move on to the next step - namely the translation of the whole CETA text (which is available online) into all EU languages. The agreement will then be sent to the Member States for ratification and finally to the European Parliament. If all goes well, we hope to sign the agreement later this year, and for it to enter into force by 2017.
See also my joint statement this week together with Chrystia Freeland, Minister of International Trade of Canada, available here.