A narrow Chamber majority on Tuesday agreed to CETA, the EU trade agreement with Canada. After a roll-call vote, 72 members of the House of Representatives voted in favor and 69 against. The vote made it clear that Minister Sigrid Kaag (Foreign Trade, D66) will have a hard time in the Senate, where she needs the support of a handful of opposition parties.
Coalition party ChristenUnie voted in favor as expected on Tuesday, following commitments from Kaag to check extra whether there is no hormone meat on the Dutch market. Wybren van Haga, the member of the House of Representatives who was deported from the VVD, also did that. Kaag said to be “happy”. She did not find the small seat difference disappointing. “What is important is that we can go to the Senate. This is also an important signal to Europe and the world. ”
Nevertheless, the vote on Tuesday was a disappointment for the coalition. The entire opposition voted against, including 50Plus and the SGP, parties that the government needs in the Senate. The coalition lacks six seats in the senate, and would need, in addition to 50Plus and the SGP, the two seats of Henk Otten’s group, which split from Forum for Democracy.
Critical on arbitration court
Otten is critical about CETA. “The fact that we recently voted in favor of the government’s nitrogen plan does not mean that we will jump through Rutte’s hoop. This is a completely different file and we are very different in it. ”
Like almost all opposition parties, Otten is particularly critical of the Investment Court System (ICS), an arbitration court where companies that feel they are adversely affected by government policy can go outside the regular judicial process.
50Plus was secretive about how it would vote for a long time. But according to party chairman Henk Krol, a vote against was logical. “It’s in our election program.” He immediately opened an opening for the cabinet to negotiate with his party in the Senate. “We looked at whether we could get something from the cabinet in exchange, but we didn’t get anything. The First Chamber fraction makes its own assessment. “
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The eyes will also be focused on the PvdA. This caused the current crisis environment around CETA in October, when it unexpectedly withdrew support for the treaty. There is a hope within the coalition that part of the PvdA party in the Upper House will vote differently, despite the clear no in the Lower House. “We have not yet taken a position,” says MP Ruud Koole. “We look at it from all sides and take the PvdA group’s vote in the Lower House into account. We have not yet discussed the content of this as a group. ”
If a majority in the Senate fails, then there is another option, according to sources within the coalition: to delay the formation of a new cabinet. Kaag did not want to speculate on Tuesday how it will continue. “Timekeeping is not my commitment.” According to the minister, the role of the Senate is “formally different” from that of the Second. “The Senate looks at the legal aspects.” Not so much to the content of the treaty. She nevertheless expects many questions. “We will talk to everyone as it should be. That is the manual work. And we will continue with that. ”
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February 19, 2020