Zoltán Massay-Kosubek

Brussels, 10th January 2016 Many claim that the Grand Coalition (the legislative cooperation between the social and christian democrats) is ’dead’ but to believe it, it should be put to the test: the upcoming votes in the European Parliament on the approval of CETA, the EU-Canada trade deal will tell the truth.


European Parliament President campaign

The future of the Grand Coalition was put on the spotlight when the European People’s Party (EPP) and the Socialist and Democrats (S&D) decided to nominate separate candidates for the EP Presidency. Since then, there are controversy about the future cooperation of the two biggest political groups in the EP.

The S & D candidate Gianni Pittella said:

„The legislative cooperation [between the S&D and EPP] is over. Regardless the outcome of this election, there is no chance of restoring it.”

However, the EPP candidate Antonio Tajani interpreted the cooperation differently:

„There is no collapse of the grand coalition. We have a clear power-sharing agreement”

Free Trade as an area of political cooperation

One of the most obvious cases where the two political groups have cooperated so far is the area of free trade.
The EPP group is considered as supportive to free trade agreements in general (such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – TTIP) while the S & D group – despite being split on this issue – decided to cooperate on trade. Many objected that move as a wrong compromise. A clear example for that was the adoption of the TTIP report by the EP in 2015 where the Grand Coalition secured a comfortable majority for a common position by436 to 241.

CETA and health: fire and water

The recently negotiated CETA is a perfect case study where the official party lines and ordinary citizens are not in line. While the right wing and liberal parties are supporting such trade agreements, the electorate of the left wing parties have more and more concerns. To take an example, there are many concerns identified with regard to the compatibility of CETA with our public health standards.

CETA and Public health laws

CETA has the potential to undermine public health by opening the door for businesses to challenge public health laws that are perceived as barriers to trade and limiting policy choices for social, health, education and water services which all fall under the rubric of “Services of General Interest.” See the Unhealthy Side Effects of CETA.

The EP vote on CETA will revail if the Grand Coalition is truly dead

The CETA vote will be a golden opportunity to demonstrate if the area of compromises is really over. According to EU law, the European Parliament has to give its consent to the ratification of CETA. Commissioner Malmström has indicated several times that CETA will not be previously applied prior to the approval of the EP. There are signs already that the Grand Coalition is shaking as the Committee for Employment and Social affairs voted down CETA by 27 to 24 in December 2016. The upcoming vote of the ENVI Committee on 12th January, the INTA Committee on 24th January and the final EP Plenary vote in February will tell the truth whether the Grand Coalition is still alive.

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