The Agreement between the EU and the Government of Canada regarding the application of their competition laws, is plain sailing.
It details cooperation between the competition authorities of the Union and of Canada regarding information available to their respective services about anti-competitive activities of interest to both or to one of the parties.
(As we have already been told) the agreement updates and modernises a previous one on the same subject that had worked well.
One can only say yes to this.
Canada is a country that fully shares and practices the values of the Union, so that for instance, when this agreement overlaps with such matters as the respect of data protection and privacy rules, one feels confident of the commitment to such respect from both sides.
I would like to make two points however.
First: the Council authorised the Commission to open negotiations on the matter at hand on 9 October 2008, over eight years ago. Why has it taken so long to arrive to the present stage?
As far as I know, there was no contrary pressures to the conclusion of negotiations.
On something that is largely administrative in nature – once both sides agree on the need to pursue convergent competition policies – forward movement on achieving agreeent should have been much swifter.
Or am I missing something?
Were there hidden difficulties and reservations involved? – about which then, if yes, we should be briefed.
A second point: obviously, this agreement is being concluded on the side of, apart from, CETA, about which much has been said.
I would be surprised if colleagues in this Parliament will fail to consider that discussion on this agreement provides an opportunity to open up on CETA.
It too has a chapter dealing with a commitment to the joint pursuit of policies and procedures that combat anti-competitive practices.
Here is what it says about how this approach should be implemented in its article 17.2:
“The measures taken to proscribe anti-competitive business conduct shall be transparent, nondiscriminatory, and demonstrate procedural fairness. Exclusions from the application of competition law shall be transparent. Both parties will make available any public information concerning such exclusions provided under its competition law to the other party.”
So the signature of the agreement before us, and its ratification, would be fully coherent with CETA. Perhaps had the present agreement itself, technical as it is, been finalised speedily, it could have been integrated in CETA itself, rather than apply separately.