German court rejects bid to block Canada-EU trade deal, Trudeau impatient

Thu Oct 13, 2016 12:05pm EDT
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By Caroline Copley and David Ljunggren

BERLIN/OTTAWA (Reuters) - Germany's Constitutional Court cleared the government on Thursday to approve a free trade accord between the European Union and Canada under defined conditions, boosting the agreement's chances of passing an EU vote next week.

However, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made clear he was losing patience with the EU over the pact, which both sides say could boost bilateral trade by 20 percent.

The court in Karlsruhe rejected emergency appeals by activists to prevent Berlin from endorsing the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) before it has been ratified by national parliaments.

Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel, who has championed the pact as Europe's best chance to shape the changing rules of global trade, said the ruling paved the way towards ratification.

"I am very pleased that we have made a first big step, because if Europe were not able to deal with Canada, this would send a difficult signal in the world," he said.

EU trade ministers are due to vote on the accord next week and Brussels and Ottawa then hope to sign it on Oct. 27.

But its final approval is far from certain, as the ministers have signaled they want unanimous support from the 28 member states to allow it to enter force.

Trudeau, in by far his most outspoken criticism of the EU, said on Thursday CETA was a turning point for the bloc.   Continued...

Protesters of BUND, a German non-governmental organisation (NGO) dedicated to preserving nature and protecting the environment, protest against CETA in front of the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, October 12, 2016.     REUTERS/Stefanie Loos