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Montreal Canada - European Union Summit: a partnership for global peace and growth through multilateralism and shared rules

Montreal Canada - European Union Summit: a partnership for global peace and growth through multilateralism and shared rules

Justin Trudeau and Donald Tusk met in Montreal on 17-18 July for the 17th Canada - European Union summit. The joint declaration reiterated the friendship between Canada and the European Union that has its roots in common values and history. Among the dossiers addressed: trade and sustainable growth, climate change and environmental protection, promotion of international peace and security, energy and innovation.


Laura Borzi*


The Canada European Union summit, which was held in Montreal on 17-18 July, was the occasion to take stock of the close relationship that characterizes the two sides of the Atlantic and prepare the favorable ground for future cooperation among the problems of a world disorder that finds it hard to find the direction towards a new balance.

The proof is that, against the background of the various issues dealt with - trade, climate, energy, international relations and security - there remains the heartfelt concern to protect and renew the institutional fabric that had characterized the Onusian multilateral system, whose original features are hardly recognizable in the current multiform panorama.

An institutionalized and structured system, in fact, can more easily manage the centrifugal forces deriving from the change in power relations and from the differences in the policies of the States.

The Canadian foreign minister Chrystia Freeland referred to this breakdown of the political, economic and institutional mosaic of the last few decades by looking at how the international community is facing the most turbulent period in terms of the international rule-based order since the Second World War.

Canada and the EU have always invested resources significantly precisely in those international organizations or intergovernmental forums that are now subject to division, fragmentation or jamming. While observers continue to emphasize that the international liberal order built in the last century has gradually proved to be increasingly inadequate to respond to the processes and challenges of globalization, there is often a tendency to forget that the success of multilateralism has economic significance growth and prosperity and, in terms of security, it has manifested itself in the quantity of unopposed wars and therefore of lives saved.


Global challenges and multilateralism

Ottawa and Brussels are aware of the fact that the reasons that must come to light for the purpose of "reconstruction and updating of the international order" are not only those of the past, such as the peaceful resolution of disputes or the management of problems in the world economic system. These "classic" issues are joined by new global issues that can only have concerted, shared and commonly implemented solutions: climate change, mechanisms for managing migration flows, threats of international terrorism are just a few examples of the issues they see in the weakening of multilateralism a serious threat to modern societies.

The results of the two-day event in Montreal confirm, as was to be expected, the closeness of intent and values that binds the two sides of the Atlantic and the direction they intend to follow in the near future. In an election year for both partners, given that after the renewal of the European Parliament last May, the Canadians will go to the polls on October 21st, European Council President Tusk pointed out that Ottawa and Brussels share the same vision of the world, values and objectives that essentially summarize the foundation of Western society: democracy, the rule of law, human rights and an international rule-based order. Prime Minister Trudeau has asserted that, over the various generations, Canadians and Europeans have joined forces to face the challenges they have set themselves. To date, these challenges are combating climate change, job creation for the middle class and building a better future for both sides of the Atlantic.



The dossiers tackled in the two days in Quebèc - economic growth, climate change, energy and innovation, democracy, human rights, and international security - refer in substance to the Strategic Partnership Agreement, the agreement signed in 2016 and already ratified by 20 European states which, constitutes the platform for growing collaboration on major issues of common interest. As noted above, the concern for the safeguarding of the multilateral system and the defense of the values of the West of which, in part despite themselves, the European Union and Canada are becoming paladins has been a bit the common thread of the encounter in the sense that we have sought to emphasize how the declaration of obsolescence attributed by some to Western values and together with them to liberal democracy is to be rejected in its entirety.

In fact, taking into consideration the various issues addressed and the ways in which the parties intend to give answers to the considerable challenges that are posed in the global panorama, it could be said that the deepening of the bilateral relationship can have an important and ambitious "effect secondary "the so-called" mainstreaming multilateralism "in the global governance system.

From the issues examined during the summit and exemplified by the official document, for each topic addressed bilaterally a response modality on a larger scale emerges through the setting in motion of a dynamic of pluralism that responds in some way also to the problem of reflux. of Washington from the role of hegemonic guide that had meant American power in the world, but also order, diffusion and promotion of the cultural and political model of the West tout cour


Trade Canada - EU: CETA results

First and foremost, bilateral relations were considered from the point of view of trade. For Canada, the EU is the second partner in the field of trade and investment, in this sense the positive impact of CETA, a tool of great help for the bilateral economic relationship, which after a year of provisional application in all important sections on the economic level (customs duties, tariff quotas and contingents linked to the origin, commitments concerning the services, the provisions relating to the temporary stay, obligations relating to the markets) produced a 10.5% increase in trade between the parties with respect to the average of the previous three-year period (2015-2017). This is an agreement that does not want to compromise the ability of the respective governments to regulate the public interest on issues such as environment, health, and safety, protection of workers. But it is precisely the greater cooperation between the parts that allows to face these challenges with a renewed effectiveness.

The road to full implementation of the agreement, ratified by 13 EU states to date, has been shortened with the recent ratification by the French National Assembly and with the confirmation of the European Court of Justice on the compatibility of the chapter CETA on investments with the European treaty system.


International Trade vs Global Protectionism

Extending the vision to world trade issues, retracing the previous not easy summit meetings the G7 in Charlevoix (June 2018) and G20 in Osaka (June 2019), the line of strong support for an international rules-based system and is maintained and puts the defense of the WTO against the rising tendencies to protectionism on a global scale. The challenges to the world trade system are significant and they must be given adequate answers.

At the moment, a problem is related to the resolution of the functioning of the dispute resolution system, in particular the Appellative Body. The US has failed to appoint the arbitrators so the operation is interrupted. While waiting for definitive solutions to be found that fully restore this important role, Canada and the EU are developing an agreement for an interim arbitration system based on the existing rules, an action aimed at emphasizing the unchanged commitment to the reconstruction of rules for the functioning of the international trading system and the importance of solving problems with the key states of the organization.


Technology and innovation: guiding technological transformation on shared values and human rights

As regards collaboration in technological research and innovation, Canada and the EU intend to work together to face the challenges facing modern societies, promoting growth and development in a sustainable way. In this regard, joint initiatives under the various Horizon Europe, Copernicus and Canadian programs are underlined. In this line the decision is made based on New's Frontiers in Research for the allocation of $ 50 million over a five-year period in order to support Canadian participation in international teams through Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe.

Furthermore, increased cooperation at institutional level between Canada and the EU is encouraged, which should be implemented through innovation clusters with the inclusion of business and academic institutions non-profit organizations that generate economic growth and a partnership that creates opportunities especially for small and medium-sized companies.

However, the response to technological changes must be able to maintain the values of democracy and respect for human rights, cooperation in the digital world and in particular in the artificial intelligence sector, a complex of technologies that will transform every sector of human activity. These technological advances will have to focus on our common values with the aim of finding a broader approach in this sense. In this regard, the EU supports the initiative to establish an international panel on artificial intelligence, already announced by Canada and France in 2018, to go in the direction of a responsible development in this regard, which takes into account human rights and guarantees inclusion and economic growth. This attitude, which insists on Western values, must also be read in a perspective of "containment" towards China. In fact, Beijing, in search of a status of world power far beyond the economic aspect, is not able to catch up in all sectors and has invested in an asymmetric recovery approach, aiming at those areas that remain open to competition, precisely articular intelligence, big data and communication technologies.


Climate change: EU and Canada towards global governance leadership

In light of the IPCC report on global warming, the parties supporting the adoption of the COP 24 Katowice rules reaffirm their commitment to support the implementation of the Paris agreement and to collaborate with international partners in view of the UN Climate event Action Summit to take place in September 2019.

Here the States will be asked to present realistic plans to improve national contributions for 2020 in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45% over the next decade and with the aim of moving towards the goal of zero emissions for 2050.

The action of Canada and the EU should be directed in this regard towards leadership in the sector with research into innovative technologies and the involvement of various partners including developing countries (eg Africa Renewable Energy Initiative). What Ottawa and Brussels should commit to doing is maintaining the issue of climate issues among the priorities on the international agenda. The value of the process can only be appreciated in the long term, together with the ability of individual signatory countries to maintain the priority of coal neutrality for the second half of the century and the pressure exerted by political pressure on the part of citizens towards governments for greater awareness urgency of the action. However, it is very positive that the American recess has not caused the domino effect that was feared and indeed the adhesion to the legacy of Paris still shows the defense of the multilateralism, the only instrument able to solve the problems of the global common spaces.

On the theme of global commons, the Joint Declaration devotes particular attention to the aspects of climate change in the Arctic due to its role as baromenters of the global climate, but also due to enormous implications from an economic, commercial and environmental standpoint of human security. The Arctic is a theme of importance for a country where the North represents 40% of the territory and to whose political initiative and environmental sensitivity much of the diplomatic action that led to the creation of the Arctic Council is due, the intregovernmental forum that has been managing for over 20 years the dossiers of this important region of the world in the name of a cooperation that seems to mock the climate of contrast between powers and strong political differences concerning the rest of the planet.

It is in this context of sensitivity that the signing of the partnership on the oceans by Minister Catherine McKenna for Canada and Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström was also included.

In the wake of the steps already taken in this direction (Charlevoix Blueprint on Healthy Oceans Seas and Resilient Coastal Communities but also the Ocean Plastic Charter adopted at the edge of the G7 in Charlevoix), we are moving towards strengthening the governance of the oceans, with attention to coastal communities to issues of economic sustainability (fishing) and environmental protection (marine waste), and attention is paid to biodiversity, as emerged from the results of the Global Nature summit hosted by Canada, which will link the agendas of climate change and ocean protection. For efforts at the international level one looks carefully at post-2020 for a framework of action within the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Cooperation on the subject of energy is instead that implemented within the framework of the EU Canada High Level Panel on Energy which sets shared objectives on transition and energy security. The results of the 10th Ministerial Energy reaffirm the commitment to transition that can combine economic growth and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions through the contribution of all those involved.


International relations, human rights and security

The Canada and EU Montreal summit was also an opportunity to reaffirm the commitment to work together in the fundamental international forums and to maintain the centrality of the UN system and the need for the protection of international institutions, the strengthening of democratic institutions in the processes and in the principles against external threats. Collaboration and sharing of best practices on a bilateral and multilateral level is necessary through mechanisms such as the G7 Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM), an initiative to strengthen coordination between members with crisis units to share information and analysis and find an answer if necessary, established precisely on the occasion of the Canadian presidency

The commitment to the protection of human rights is reaffirmed by promoting attention to the movements that support human rights with particular attention to the female universe to promote gender equality and the affirmation of women in society. Goals that can also be pursued through the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda with a systematic integration of gender and female participation in the sectors of peace and security with a coordination to respond to the victims of violence. Regarding security in the traditional sense of the term Canada and EU already cooperate in the field of peace operations and stabilization with Canadian contributions in European crisis management missions: civil missions in Ukraine (EUAM Ukraine), in Ramallah (EUPOL COPPS), in Mali (EUCAP Sahel Mali), in Iraq (EUAM Iraq).



The bond on security and defense is also strengthened by the cooperation with NATO with a coherent contribution to the challenges of the international scene where Canada and the EU share benefits and responsibilities by promoting a fair division of tasks for the Member States.

EU bilateral cooperation Canada also materializes in the common defense against hybrid and cybernetic threats that arise from misinformation through the work done with EU centers of excellence on hybrid threats and the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense.


Canada - EU – Russia

Finally, with regard to crisis areas, one of the major problems is certainly the Ukraine issue.

Sanctions against Russia were renewed from Canada and the EU and the USA last March. The restrictive measures, in the perspective of Ottawa and Brussels, pursue the aim of generating a change in the behavior of Moscow that restores the violated international law: the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol to which in November 2018, in the Kerch Strait, the capture of 3 Russian ships and 24 sailors was added. In parallel, the objective is to support the process of reforms in Ukraine for the creation of a transparent and dynamic economy and for the promotion of a rule of law that takes into account minorities. If the second objective is realistically feasible, a Conference on reforms in Ukraine was held in Toronto at the beginning of July, for the restoration of the status here before the Crimea we do not actually see solutions. Putin's foreign policy will hardly return to the acquis and there will not be an inflection of the Kremlin line in this sense, also because the confrontation with the West has become structuring also now in domestic politics. So if the efforts to prevent further new tensions remain for all the actors duly punishable, a significant change in EU-Canada-Russia relations seems unlikely in the short term.


Other "hot" dossiers: Iran, Syria, China, the migration phenomenon

Among other dossiers addressed, the EU and Canada could not fail to address some international crisis contexts, in the context of a proposal to resume dialogue and a political solution to the critical issues. For the Iranian nuclear issue the position is to maintain the Action Plan (JCPOA) supported by the CdS (Resolution 2231) and its complete implementation.

For Venenzuela and the restoration of democracy, presidential elections are to be held in line with the constitution and with the international reference standards. In Syria, priority was given to protecting civilians and pursuing the work of the UN special envoy Geir Pedersen for a credible political transition. The reference to Beijing is not missing from "attracting" in the meshes of an effective multialteralism even amid the complex problems of detention in Chinese prisons of Canedese and European citizens. Finally, a question that can only have multilateral solutions, albeit with due and appropriate adaptations to particular regional contexts, is that of the worldwide phenomenon of migration which creates opportunities and challenges for migrants and welcoming, provenance and transit countries. On this crucial issue of global relations it will be natural to follow the developments of European and Canadian responses, both on the side of governments and civil society, to compare phenomena and develop best practices.



Europe and Canada have therefore agreed on the need to deepen the bilateral relationship and accelerate cooperation to face global challenges, between partners who share the same vision of the world, similar values and the same objectives. They reiterated their common commitment to addressing the issues raised in a dimension of integrated pluralism using the tools available. While the rule-based world is constantly under attack, Canada and the EU will have to show leadership aimed at removing the dangers of reflux towards political and commercial protectionism, highlighting in the bilateral example the benefits and gains of common actions. Canada formally joined the Franco-German coalition, aimed at preserving the international order from destruction and threats from dictators, an alliance that significantly does not include Trump's America. The alliance for multilateralism will be launched at the 74th session of the UN General Assembly next September. It is a process aimed at enhancing international cooperation by the medium powers. The enterprise aimed at safeguarding the liberal world order or at least slowing down its erosion is a real possibility. In doing so we could give rise to new "coalitions of the willings" which, by making the world institutional structure more robust, protect the system from growing instability and protect it from the power politics of the new millennium.



Cover: Cecilia Malmström, EU trade Commissioner, Donal Tusk, President of the European Council, Justin Trudeau, prime minister of Canada. Source: