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You are here: Home topics Trade Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) - main elements

Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) - main elements

29 February 2016
by eub2 -- last modified 18 October 2016

The European Commission and the Canadian Government announced on 29 February that the legal review of the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) English text had been completed. This includes a new approach on investment protection and investment dispute settlement.


What will the EU gain from CETA?

The EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade agreement (CETA) will significantly improve business opportunities for European companies in Canada. With CETA, European companies will receive the best treatment that Canada has ever offered to any trading partner, thus levelling the playing field on the Canadian market for EU companies.

By opening markets, CETA should support growth and jobs in the EU and bring further benefits for European consumers. It has the potential to keep prices down and provide consumers with greater choice of quality products. CETA will not change EU standards. Standards and regulations related to food safety, product safety, consumer protection, health, environment, social or labour standards etc. will remain untouched. All imports from Canada will have to satisfy all EU product rules and regulations – without exception.

More specifically CETA will offer:

  • Savings on customs duties

CETA will bring tangible benefits to European consumers and companies by eliminating or cutting customs duties – some of the most far reaching achieved by the EU in a trade agreement. This will provide important market opportunities for European companies including SMEs and could save European exporters around €470 million a year for industrial goods and €42 million a year for agricultural goods. Importantly, most customs duties will disappear as soon as CETA comes into effect. Cutting customs duties will not lower or change EU standards. Canadian imports will have to respect EU regulations.

  • Opportunities for service suppliers and transparent and effective investment protection and dispute settlement mechanisms

CETA is by far the most far reaching agreement ever concluded by the EU in the area of services and investment. European firms will have more opportunities to provide specialised maritime services like dredging, moving empty containers, and shipping certain cargo within Canada. European firms will also have new advantages when it comes to getting investment projects approved in Canada, protecting their investments and enforcing their rights in case of unfair treatment througha balanced and effective dispute settlement system. In other services sectors, such as environmental services, telecom and finance, market access is ensured, both at federal level and - for the first time – provincial level. In CETA – as in all its trade agreements – the EU protects public services.  Operating in the EU, Canadian investors and service providers will have to respect applicable EU regulations, and will not be subject to discrimination vis-à-vis European investors and service providers.

  • Mutual recognition of professional qualifications

The agreement provides a framework to facilitate the mutual recognition of qualifications in regulated professions such as architects, accountants and engineers. The relevant professional organisations in the EU and Canada now have a framework that sets out the conditions for the negotiation of mutual recognition agreements for their respective professions. These will then have to be negotiated and agreed by the EU and Canada.

  • Easier transfers of company staff and other professionals between the EU and Canada

CETA will make it easier for firms to move staff temporarily between the EU and Canada.  This will facilitate European companies' operations in Canada. It will be also easier for other professionals to temporarily supply legal, accounting, architectural or similar services.

  • Improve ability of European companies to provide after sales services

CETA will make it easier for EU firms to export equipment, machinery and software by allowing firms to send maintenance engineers and other specialists to provide after-sales and related services.

  • Access to Canadian public tenders

Canada has opened up its government tenders to EU companies to a greater extent than with any of its other trading partners. EU firms will be able to bid to provide goods and services not only at federal level but also to Canadian provinces and municipalities, the first non-Canadian firms to be able to do so. Canada’s provincial procurement market is estimated to be double the size of its federal equivalent.

  • Avoiding costs related to double testing

The EU and Canada have agreed to accept each other’s conformity assessment certificates in areas such as electrical goods, electronic and radio equipment, toys, machinery or measuring equipment. This means that a conformity assessment body in the EU can test EU products for export to Canada according to Canadian rules and vice versa. This will avoid both sides doing the same test and could greatly reduce costs for companies and consumers alike. This is of particular benefit to smaller companies for whom paying twice for the same test can be prohibitive.

  • Better protection for EU innovation and creative works

CETA will create a more level playing field between Canada and the EU on intellectual property rights. For example, it will improve how Canada’s IPR system protects patents for EU pharmaceutical products. It will also strengthen the protection of copyrights (alignment with EU rules on protection of technological measures and digital rights management as well as on the liability of internet service providers) and enforcement (namely by foreseeing the possibility of provisional measures and injunctions for intermediaries involved in infringing activities).Canada also agreed to strengthen its border measures against counterfeit trademark goods, pirated copyright goods and counterfeit geographical indication goods.

  • Market advantage for producers of traditional European products

Many medium-sized and smaller businesses trading in agricultural products will benefit from Canada agreeing to protect 145 geographical indications for high-quality European products, such as Roquefort cheese, balsamic vinegar from Modena or Dutch Gouda cheese and many others.

  • Commitment to Sustainable Development

In CETA,the EU and Canada affirm their commitment to sustainable development. Both agree that more trade and investment should further environmental protection and labour rights – and not be at their expense. The EU and Canada are committed to CETA helping to ensure that economic growth, social development, and environmental protection are mutually supportive. CETA integrates the EU’s and Canada's obligations to international rules on workers’ rights and environmental protection, and gives a strong role to EU and Canadian civil society in participating in the implementation of the commitments in these areas in CETA. CETA also sets up a process for settling disputes, including government consultations and a panel of experts.

CETA summary

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