“Uncertain” EU-Canada Free Trade Deal “Favourable” To Hungary, Foreign Minister Says
Tamás Székely 2016.10.19.
It continues to be uncertain if the free trade agreement between the European Union and Canada could be signed next week as planned, the Hungarian foreign minister Péter Szijjártó said on Tuesday. Speaking after a meeting of foreign and trade ministers of the EU, Szijjártó said that still several countries had voiced doubt about the agreement.
It is in Hungary’s interest that the European Union should remain competitive in a new global economy for which it is crucial to have a free trade agreement with Canada that takes each member state’s sensitivities into consideration, Szijjártó said. Europe needs to be a part of global economic trends, he added. If the EU is unable to sign free trade agreements, then it will fall behind in international trade and economic competition, which will also have a very negative effect on Hungary, he said. The council of foreign and trade ministers has made it clear that the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) must not force any EU member state to amend their current regulations pertaining to environmental protection, food safety, public services and public procurements, he said.
Hungary’s current GMO regulations are not under threat in any way because the agreement contains safeguards that no European import licences can be issued for products that have not passed preliminary health and other checks. The ministers agreed that food safety, consumer protection and water management would remain in national sphere of authority, and that the current level of environmental regulation must not be lowered in Europe. Szijjártó confirmed that the way CETA addresses Hungary’s concerns in agriculture and food production, including that of maize, poultry, beef, pork and eggs, is reassuring. The agreement is favourable to Hungary also in terms of the designation of origin and geographical indications applied to Tokaji wine and Szeged salami, he added.
Meanwhile in Hungary green party LMP and radical nationalist Jobbik are harshly criticizing the Fidesz-KDNP government over its willingness to sign the EU-Canada free trade agreement. While Viktor Orbán’s cabinet “fights loudly against Brussels’s migration policies”, it “shows servility” in connection with CETA talks, which “would serve only the interests of multinational companies”, both opposition parties pointed out. “Like TTIP, CETA would bring disadvantages to Hungarian people and small and medium-sized companies”, they insist. Furthermore, according to Jobbik and LMP, “it will lead to the deterioration of the environment and the quality of food, endangering Hungary’s GMO-free status”.