PvdA for controversial trade agreement with Canada, now majority in senate

The PvdA Group in the Senate will agree on Monday to the controversial CETA trade agreement between the European Union and Canada. Senator Koole announced this via de Volkskrant. Canada cannot be rejected as a trading partner, given the current situation in world politics, the PvdA believes.

After objections, the party nevertheless votes in favour of the treaty because it strengthens Europes position in an unstable world and takes major strides towards a sustainable economy, says Koole in a submitted article.

The treaty is good for international trade, achieving the climate goals and for employee rights, says the PvdA.

If CETA is rejected, the old trade agreements between countries will apply again, Koole writes. And then, as Europe, you say no to a country that, like us, wants to promote the international legal order and takes the climate crisis seriously. Youre weakening Europe, and thats just what we cant have right now, given international relations.

Tight majority

The party has become a doubtful supporters opponent, and now advocate. Former minister Ploumen defended the treaty as minister, but the PvdA voted against as an opposition party at the beginning of 2020 under the leadership of group chairman Asscher.

The treaty was therefore adopted by a tight majority of 72 votes in favour – from the coalition parties and MP Van Haga – and 69 votes against. The expectation was then that it would die in the Senate, because the coalition parties do not have a majority there.

But now that the PvdA has changed its position, that majority is coming into view. The coalition parties VVD, D66, CDA and ChristenUnie have 32, with the six Senate seats of the PvdA there are 38 out of 75.

Yesterday, the Party for the Animals and BBB in the AD called on the PvdA and JA21 to vote against. The political opponents are joining forces on this dossier. Because there is one point where our parties are shoulder to shoulder, write group chairmen Ouwehand and Van der Plas.

It is totally unfair to ask Dutch farmers to make them more sustainable and impose stricter environmental rules, but at the same time to expose them to competition from farmers from outside Europe who already do not have to comply with European rules.

For many Dutch farmers, this leads to bankruptcy due to unfair competition, the two parties argue. A large part of the agricultural sector has been opposing the treaty for years.

GroenLinks, the party with which the PvdA wants to cooperate, is against. JA21, represented in the Senate by the Nanninga Group, will also vote against.

On Monday, the Senate will debate CETA with Minister Schreinemacher for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation all day long. Schreinemacher (VVD) is, after Ploumen (PvdA) and Kaag (D66), the third minister for foreign trade to deal with the treaty.

It will be voted jointly and severally on Tuesday.