SPD MEP Udo Bullmann does not think it is a mistake to make agreements like the teetering CETA deal dependent on the approval of regions like Wallonia. EURACTIV’s partner Der Tagesspiegel reports.
Udo Bullmann is a German lawmaker (S&D) and a member of the delegation for relations with the Mercosur trading bloc.
Bullmann spoke to Der Tagesspiegel’s Albrecht Meier.
The dispute over CETA could sink the whole deal. Is it right that a small region like Wallonia can block a transatlantic deal like this?
Wallonia has raised questions that are also of concern to others. I want us to get a good deal. This includes solutions to issues that the Walloon parliament has raised.
Was it a mistake to make the CETA agreement a so-called mixed agreement, in which national and regional parliaments therefore have a say?
No, it was correct of them to do that, because CETA encompasses many issues that affect national interests, like investor protection. Given the wide-ranging nature of the debate in Germany, it was reasonable that both the Bundestag and the Bundesrat be involved.
Are the benefits of free trade going to benefit or harm people at the end of the day?
That depends on which rules it will operate under. I am strongly in favour of foreign trade legislation being used as an instrument for more humanity, worker protection and sustainability. That is why we need strong rules for free trade.
As an MEP, you are soon going to have to vote on CETA. Is the European Parliament going to approve or reject the agreement?
The SPD members of the Parliament will only say yes if their high criteria are met, as we said at the SPD conference last month in Wolfsburg.
On what main areas have you focused when advising the Parliament?
We have said that we do not want investor protection to in any way affect our legislation. We also want to ensure that municipal services are protected: there cannot be any restrictions on the member states providing adequate services to their citizens. It is also necessary that labour protection is respected.