The chairman of the Second Senate at the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany reads the senate's decision on the approval of the planned EU-Canada free trade deal, October 13, 2016, Karlsruhe, Germany. (Photo by AFP)
The Federal Constitutional Court of Germany has given the green light to the government to approve a free trade deal between the European Union and Canada, despite complaints seeking to block the accord.
The court ruled on Thursday against appeals by activists who sought to prevent the government from backing the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) before its ratification by the national parliaments in the EU.
In the southwestern German city of Karlsruhe, some 200,000 citizens, including campaigners and leftist politicians, had earlier asked the court to vote against the pact, arguing that the process was undemocratic due to a lack of parliamentary approval.
The judges, however, set some conditions to their decision to address the opponents’ concerns.
The Thursday ruling paves the way for the German government to formally endorse CETA at a meeting by the EU ministers next week.
CETA, the terms of which were agreed in 2014, is scheduled to be signed in the presence of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the Belgian capital Brussels on October 27.
The deal aims to eliminate tariffs on 98 percent of goods and also encompasses regulatory cooperation, shipping, sustainable development and access to governmental tenders.
Protesters display anti-CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) placards during a protest by various NGOs in front of the chancellery in Berlin, Germany, October 12, 2016. (Photo by AFP)
Polls show that Germans are highly skeptical of the promised benefits of the free trade, with a recent survey indicating that 28 percent of respondents were doubtful if CETA could really bring benefits at all, while more than 50 percent said the deal could lead to weaker standards and inferior products due to lower tariffs that the agreements are seeking to create.
Critics say CETA could further complicate the situation in the job market. They say the deal would also have huge environmental implications as it gives firms and companies more of a leeway to expand their activities at the expense of public safety.