France’s parliament barely approves EU-Canada trade deal

PARIS – France’s parliament approved on Tuesday the EU-Canada trade agreement with a relatively small majority, meaning that a significant part of President Emmanuel Macron’s party voted against it.

French lawmakers at the National Assembly, the country’s lower house of parliament, cast 266 votes in favour, 213 against and 74 abstentions.

Macron’s LREM party and its centrist ally Modem together have 349 seats in the 577-seat National Assembly.

A parliament tally showed that 229 LREM members voted in favour of the controversial treaty, 9 against and 52 abstained. At Modem, 32 voted in favour, 2 against and 6 abstained.

All leftist and far-right parties voted against the agreement, but among the conservative Les Republicains, one lawmaker voted in favour of the treaty and five abstained.

Ahead of the vote, popular former environment minister Nicolas Hulot, NGOs and green lawmakers had urged parliament to vote against the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

They said the treaty undermines the European Union’s social and ecological regulations by importing products made under conditions that would not be allowed in Europe.

France is the 14th EU country to approve CETA, which provisionally took effect from September 2017, but still needs to be approved by all 28 EU member states.

The French Senate will vote on it in the autumn too but does not have the power to block it.

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