15 Sep 2021, 12.00

The Joint Committee on European Union Affairs has today, Wednesday 15 September, published its report on the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada.

The deal, while provisionally applied since 2017, is currently being considered for full ratification by all members states including Ireland.

The 14-member Joint Committee on EU Affairs examined the institutional and constitutional architecture of the CETA trade agreement, the Investment Court System (ICS) proposed under the deal and the impact of CETA on Ireland’s Economic and Domestic Policies.

The report concludes that following scrutiny of the trade deal: 

  • Seven members of the Committee are strongly of the belief that CETA is a good agreement for Ireland and indeed the whole of the EU in its entirety.” These Committee members are strongly of the opinion that CETA should proceed to Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann for final ratification. 
  • A further seven other members of the Committee strongly believe there are real and unresolved concerns around the Investment Court System proposed under the deal. These members believe resolutions to ratify CETA should not be presented to Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann at present to allow for a national inquiry and wide-ranging debate and consultation on the deal to allow for an inquiry and wide-ranging consultation. 

Committee Cathaoirleach Joe McHugh TD said: “In examining the impact of CETA on Ireland, it is clear that as an open economy Ireland has benefitted economically from the provisional application of the Agreement. However, while accepting that the economic benefits to Ireland have been positive the question on ratification of CETA has led to divided opinion among members of the Houses of the Oireachtas and other member states!

Deputy McHugh added: “The Committee had lengthy discussions on concerns around ICS and a significant number of members expressed real concerns. The role of national parliaments offers no avenue for renegotiating the substance of CETA and provides only a binary option of ratification or non-ratification.”

EU Affairs Committee members in favour of the deal are of the belief that CETA in no way jeopardises the sovereignty of Ireland and includes a full suite of rigorous protections.

Leas-Chathaoirleach of the Committee Brendan Howlin TD said: “Seven members of the Committee are of the opinion that there should be a vital wide ranging national, political inquiry and debates across all section of society on the implications of ratification. Most of the provisions of CETA other than those relating to portfolio investment and the ICS have already been provisionally applied. These members strongly believe that there are real and unresolved concerns for the implications of implementing ICS in respect of the sovereignty and public policy of member states.”

 The Committee heard from 10 expert witnesses over five public meetings held between March and June as part of its scrutiny of CETA as part of the deliberations. Six written submissions were also received.

The report is being laid before Houses of the Oireachtas for consideration.

Read the full report.

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Committee membership

Deputies

Sinn Féin

Fianna Fáil

Independent

Fianna Fáil

Labour Party

Joe McHugh - Chair

Fine Gael

Senators

Fianna Fáil

Independent

Independent