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President Tusk, President Tajani, distinguished Parliamentarians, ladies and gentlemen.
Good morning. It is a privilege to be here today. I’m told that this marks the first address to the EU Parliament by a sitting Canadian Prime Minister, so thank you for allowing me this honour.
As you know, I was in Brussels not too long ago to formally sign the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, and the Strategic Partnership Agreement.
Alongside President Tusk, President Juncker, and Prime Minister Fico, we took an important step towards deepening our relationship and expanding free and progressive trade between Canada and the European Union.
And yesterday, we took another huge step.
One that was decades in the making.
Canada-EU relationship and shared values
This year, we celebrate 41 years since the diplomatic mission of the European Commission was established in Ottawa.
And over the course of our historic partnership, Canada and the EU have stood side-by-side on the things that matter.
Things like maintaining global security.
Advancing the values of peace and justice.
And ensuring our peoples’ prosperity through trade and investment.
We’ve worked together on issues like climate change, and the rights of women and girls around the world.
And, ladies and gentlemen, I am confident that we will achieve tremendous things together in the years to come – for the countries we represent, and, most importantly, for the people we serve.
The European Union is a truly remarkable achievement, and an unprecedented model for peaceful cooperation. Canada knows that an effective European voice on the global stage isn’t just preferable – it’s essential.
We know that the EU is the world’s largest donor of development and humanitarian assistance, and that, together, your member states represent one of the world’s largest economies. Not only that, but you are a vital, central player in addressing the challenges that we collectively face as an international community.
Indeed, the whole world benefits from a strong EU.
On behalf of Canadians, thank you for your continued, respectful engagement with our country. Indeed, the Canada-EU relationship has become an exemplary demonstration of international collaboration.
I’d like to thank Canada’s current Ambassador to the EU, Dan Costello, for his excellent service to our country. Dan has been tremendous in his ongoing support to our new Ambassador, the Honourable Stéphane Dion.
Stéphane, a close friend and mentor, is a man who has long fought to create a better country for all Canadians. He will proudly represent Canada with courage and conviction in this next important chapter.
Now, let me re-iterate what a tremendous honour it is for me to represent Canada in this historic chamber today. Coming to Strasbourg, and addressing you, was an important priority for me because I understand and appreciate the nature of what we have here.
I believe that the relationship between Canada and the EU is so resilient because it is centered on an important bedrock of common values. Values that shape and define us. Values that Canadians and Europeans share.
You see, collectively, we believe in democracy, transparency, and the rule of law. We believe in the recognition and respect of human rights. And we believe in inclusion, and embracing diversity.
We know that, in an increasingly connected world, we must choose to lead the international economy, not simply be subjected to its whims.
And we know that the state has an important role to play – not only in supporting its people, but also in helping to create the right conditions for progress.
And to this last point, as we have just demonstrated to the world, we, collectively, value trade, and the promise of prosperity for all our citizens that comes with it.
Yesterday – in addition to ratifying the Strategic Partnership Agreement – this Parliament voted to ratify the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement.
After years of negotiations, this important trade agreement is finally crossing the finish line. And I think we can all agree – CETA was an enormously ambitious undertaking, and will prove to be one of our greatest successes.
I’d like to express my deepest gratitude to Canada’s former Minister of International Trade – now Minister of Foreign Affairs – Chrystia Freeland; our Chief Negotiator, Steve Verheul; and their EU counterparts for their tireless efforts in getting this deal done.
And I’m confident that our new Minister of International Trade, François-Philippe Champagne, will be a strong voice for Canada on the world stage over the coming years.
Now, let’s be clear – a deal as ambitious as CETA takes a lot of hard work. Every one of us in this room knows that this wasn’t easy. It took a lot of back of forth. It took extended discussions and negotiations. Meetings in Canada, and meetings across Europe.
But the finished product is something we can all be incredibly proud of. I believe that CETA will become the blueprint for future trade deals of this magnitude and complexity.
And that’s pretty amazing.
The motto of the European Union, “United in Diversity”, is a great reminder of what can be accomplished when, despite our differences, countries come together for the mutual benefit of our people.
Now, we live in a time when some people are worried that the current system only benefits society’s narrow elite. And their concern is valid.
This anxiety towards the economy and trade – the worry that our kids won’t have access to the same jobs and opportunities that we have – can be addressed only if we ensure that trade is inclusive, and that everyone benefits.
And this agreement – the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement – is a terrific example of just that.
Because, at its heart, CETA is a framework for trade that works for everyone.
This agreement will result in the creation of good, well-paying jobs for middle class workers. It will put food on the table for families, and help grow and strengthen our communities.
Now, let’s say you’re a budding entrepreneur with an innovative product or idea. Maybe you’re having a tough time getting access to new customers. Well, CETA has just opened the door to new markets.
And what if you’re a consumer looking to buy imported goods, but the cross-border costs are too high? Maybe you’ve had your eye on Manitobah Mukluks, a Canadian, Indigenous-founded company whose products are currently subject to a 17 percent tariff in Europe. Well, with the ratification of CETA, those tariffs are removed, and you, as a consumer, are paying less at the check out.
Trade that is free and fair means less hold up and less red tape at our borders for international transactions.
It means that manufacturers can expand their products’ global reach, gaining market share and really competing with the best in the world.
And it means that folks working in service sectors like engineering, architecture, and information technology will see greater predictability and transparency when dealing with international clients.
At the end of the day, both Canada and the EU want to do what is best for our people.
We want hardworking folks to make a good living and support their families. We want moms and dads to be able to give their kids the opportunities that they never had. We want each generation of Canadians and Europeans to be better off, and have a higher standard of living, than the one that preceded it.
And deals like CETA – which is centered on the idea of trade that is both free and fair – will get us there.
At the end of the day, by making it easier to buy and sell products, we can expand opportunities for our businesses – both back in Canada and right across the EU. We can create jobs for the middle class, and make sure that the benefits of trade reach our citizens.
Make no mistake: This isn’t just about trade, in terms of imports and exports, dollars-in and dollars-out. It’s about making people’s lives better. CETA is a comprehensive blueprint for responsible economic cooperation between countries.
This modern, forward-looking agreement reflects a truly progressive trade agenda – one that protects the ability of societies to promote the public good. For example, within CETA there are provisions for labour protection.
For responsible investment practices.
For food and consumer safety.
For forest, fishery, and aquaculture management.
And for strong environmental stewardship.
My friends, this really is one of the most sustainable, progressive trade agreements in the world. And with it, Canada and the European Union have made history.
To all members present – thank you for your hard work over the last several years in making this ambitious goal a reality. I know that all our citizens will be better served for it.
Canada and the European Union have been friends, partners, and allies for a very long time. And our natural, easy relationship is grounded in what we have in common.
We share goals and aspirations for a better, safer, and fairer world.
We want to do right by the workers and families we were elected to represent.
And we embrace change, seeking the opportunity to lead in a global economy that’s constantly evolving.
CETA and the SPA – these landmark agreements – are a direct reflection of those commonalities. And it will serve to benefit Canadians and Europeans alike for generations to come.
In the things we have so far agreed upon, and in the discussions that lie ahead, the Canada-EU strategic partnership will forever be rooted in respect, and with an eye to the future.
My friends and dear colleagues, it’s safe to say that this is just the beginning. For Canada and the European Union, the best is yet to come.
Thank you very much.