The Trade Agreement That Cried Wolf: The Canada – EU Trade Agreement Timeline

The Canada – EU Trade Agreement was in the news last week with multiple reports on the likelihood of talks concluding within the next few days. Some reports said a deal was possible, British Prime Minister David Cameron said a deal is close, but by the end of the week Prime Minister Harper was saying that there was no deadline to conclude negotiations. While there is another report a deal may come today or tomorrow, if the past few years are any indication, we can expect continued speculation without a deal for many more months to come. A timeline of the talks for the past three years:

  • April 2010 – Trade Minister Peter Van Loan says that negotiations could be concluded by the end of 2011
  • January 2011 – Van Loan says negotiations could be completed by the end of 2011
  • July 2011 – Disagreement on public services. Sources say no agreement in 2011.
  • September 2011 – Trade Minister Ed Fast says negotiations are in the home stretch with only four or five major issues left
  • October 2011 – Fast says negotiations are “well advanced”
  • October 2011 – reports indicate negotiations will wrap up in early 2012
  • December 2011 – Prime Minister Harper says “all the signs are that we’re going to be able to conclude next year.”
  • January 2012 – European officials say relatively few issues left and expect a deal by the summer
  • February 2012 – Fast says “we are on track to conclude negotiations in 2012”
  • April 2012 – Media reports say agreement being held up by disagreement over rules of origin
  • April 2012 – Danish Trade Minister says CETA is 75 percent completed
  • June 2012 – European officials say talks expected to end this year despite delays
  • July 2012 – Lead Canadian CETA negotiation lawyer quits
  • July 2012 – Fast says still aiming to conclude agreement in 2012
  • August 2012 – Harper and German Chancellor Angela Merkel meet to discuss CETA. Intellectual property, public procurement, and services cited as key stumbling blocks
  • October 2012 – Fast says agreement is possible this year. By the end of the month, says year-end is a goal, not a target.
  • October 2012 – EU Trade Commission Karel de Gucht says a number of big issues still remain. Points to intellectual property, government procurement, foreign investment, agriculture, and services.
  • November 2012 – Media reports say Canada willing to cave on intellectual property to clinch a deal.
  • November 2012 – Canada – EU make final push in negotiations
  • December 2012 – Reports say negotiations in the home stretch, deal possible by January
  • January 2013 – German Ambassador to Canada says deal is possible next month
  • February 2013 – de Gucht comes to Ottawa but officials dismiss hopes of finalizing deal. Media reports that framework deal is on “Harper’s desk”
  • February 2013 – Canada said ready to compromise on dairy restrictions, but divide remains on beef exports, intellectual property, and auto shipments. EU report also says disagreements remain on public procurement and pork exports.  By the end of the month, de Gucht says Canada must improve its offer.
  • March 2013 – Trade Minister Ed Fast says momentum building for a CETA agreement, claiming the talks are “into the end game where there is only a small number of issues left to be addressed”. Canadian reports say financial services still in dispute.  EU officials urge Canada to conclude agreement by the summer.
  • April 2013 – Minister of State for Finance Ted Menzies delivers a talk supporting CETA but says there is no deadline for completion of the agreement.  Dutch minister says deal pushed back to the summer. By the end of the month, officials say agreement could be announced in a few weeks.
  • May 2013 – Reports say Canada close to finalizing agreement. Other reports say Harper wants deal by June 21st. Yet further reports say agriculture the sole remaining issue (Canada-EU trade deal nears; agriculture is final sticking point), though others say human rights is a concern. By the end of the month, Canada is said to be seeking “an agreement in principle.”
  • June 2013 – Canada said to be linking all issues: agriculture and market access, cars, rules of origin, government procurement, and investment protection.
  • June 4, 2013 – Canada expected to announce trade agreement next week.
  • June 7, 2013 – Canada does not expect to sign agreement during Harper visit in Europe.

Will Canada and the EU ultimately strike a deal? Maybe today or tomorrow.  But back in March I came around to Paul Wells’ opinion that a deal may not happen. A compromise is still possible, but both sides still have reasons to hold back. Canada’s participation in the Trans Pacific Partnership may make it reluctant to cave on issues that would be useful bargaining chips in those talks, while Europe’s talks with the U.S. mean that anything Canada gets, the U.S. gets more so conceding on key issues to Canada comes at a bigger cost later.  Given the limited importance of the deal – the Canadian market is just too small to make a major difference for Europe and a European Commission commissioned study of the agreement concluded that there were many areas that offer only limited Canadian gains – it may remain in limbo for some time.


  1. Trade agreements
    Harper has alienated himself from Canadians. Harper has alienated himself from other country’s as well. Canada’s name on the international scene, is in tatters.

    Harper is pretty much handing Canada to Communist China, right off a silver platter. That’s sort of hard to miss, is it not? Harper’s FIPPA deal with China means, China will be in Canada for, a minimum of 31 years. Harper has no need to trade with other country’s. China will take everything out of Canada, they want to take.

  2. Harper desperately needs a win sometime, somewhere … let’s hope he doesn’t empty the pantry on this.

  3. Garry R Moore says:

    Moore, Garry R – Solutions Inc
    On October 18th the Canadian government did a media roll out of selective highlights of the pending Canada-EU Trade Agreement

    Then last week 20 government ministers fanned out across Canada on a promotional tour of the Agreement

    On October 29th the government will table a summary of the Agreement in the House of Commons and Trade Minister Fast will host a reception for industry leaders

    All this without a final text which continues to be ” fine-tuned ” in on-going dialogue with the EU

    EU did not give Canada enhanced market access to a 500 million person market for nothing

    Until we can see the actual text of the Agreement we will not know what Canada paid for the deal – what did it cost us?

    Moore, Garry R – Solutions Inc