BERLIN — Germany's highest court has rejected calls from opponents of a Canada-European Union trade deal for an injunction that had the potential to spell an end to the pact.
The Federal constitutional Court ruled Thursday against complaints over the trade deal, known as CETA. Tens of thousands of citizens joined in two of those complaints.
The plaintiffs wanted the government to be forced to vote against approving the accord at an EU meeting Oct. 18 pending full consideration by the court of their contention that it violates the principles of democracy.
Canadian International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland (L) and German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel (R) speak during a press conference in Berlin, Germany, 14 April 2016. (Photo: EPA/Gregor Fischer)
Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, who is also Germany's economy minister, had warned putting off CETA's signing could effectively torpedo the accord.
The judges attached some conditions to their decision designed to help address the plaintiffs' concerns.
Gabriel told reporters that "we will naturally fulfil'' the stipulations that the court made in its ruling, saying it would be relatively easy. "I am very satisfied with the outcome of the hearing,'' he said.
Approval of the pact by EU trade ministers at their meeting next week is needed for a planned Canada-EU summit to take place later in the month where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his EU counterparts are expected to sign the deal.
Canada and the EU have committed to signing the deal this year and ratification in 2017.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel leaves a press conference in front of the flag of Germany and the European Union on October 12, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo: Florian Gaertner/Photothek via Getty Images)
International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland has called the Canada-EU treaty a gold-plated deal that, once ratified, will give Canada better access to a market of more than 400 million people.
Opponents of CETA are deeply suspicious of the proposed Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP, with the United States, which is still being negotiated, and view CETA as a blueprint for that accord.
On Sept. 20, thousands of demonstrators marched at the European Union headquarters in Brussels to protest both deals, claiming they would hurt labour and consumer rights while undermining environmental protection.
Freeland, who recently attended meetings in different countries in an attempt to save the trade pact, said the Liberals have been trying to address those concerns. She said it would improve free trade, streamline dispute resolution and eliminate barriers to trade.
CETA was negotiated under the former Conservative government, but the Liberals supported it while in opposition.
With files from The Associated Press