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Three questions with EU's trade commissioner

Clément ZAMPA
EU-Canada trade relations (AFP Photo/)

Strasbourg (France) (AFP) - EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem saw her flagship trade deal with Canada approved by MEPs on Wednesday but she has plenty more challenges ahead.

Here she answers questions on three key issues from AFP:

- Could national parliaments now reject the EU-Canada deal? -

MALMSTROEM: Now we have to wait for the Canadians to vote in their parliament. That will happen in the weeks to come. If everything goes well, the deal will enter into force provisionally in the spring.

After that the process of the (EU) national parliaments starts. In the vast majority of countries there won't be any problems, and in a few, there will. I'll be there to discuss it. The Canadians say they're ready too. But of course it is the responsibility of EU member states to explain the advantages of CETA (the EU-Canada trade deal) to their national parliaments, and in some cases regional parliaments, to calm their minds.

It's normal for people to worry about the environment, the food they give their chidren, about security. But there are certain myths that persist on these subjects. We have tried hard to calm them, to say that there is no reason to have these fears... you have to remember too that 28 countries, 28 governments have signed this deal and said it is a good deal. Would the 28 really sign something that was so dangerous for their citizens?

- Have you had contacts with the Trump administration? -

MALMSTROEM: No, not yet. The ministers who will be my counterparts have not yet been confirmed, so we have to wait a bit. That's normal. In the United States the transition always takes a few months. Later, in the spring, of course I will have contacts.

It's clear that the signals coming from the United States are worrying for us. But we don't yet know what they're going to do. As long as there are no proposals, we'll do nothing. We'll wait a bit to see what happens.

- Will Trump's protectionism push the EU closer to China? -

MALMSTROEM: The EU defends multilateralism. We work with our friends, our partners and also those who perhaps don't share all our values, but where we see we can move forward.

China, and especially the president (Xi Jinping), gave a very open speech (in Davos about free trade). It remains to be seen what that means in practice. But of course, we will also work with China, which defends, like the EU, the role of international and multilateral organisations.