Canada and the EU have a long history of economic cooperation. As an integrated block, the EU represents Canada's second largest trading partner in goods and services. Bilateral economic relations with the EU are very important to Canada, and this economic relationship is a high priority for the Government of Canada. Canada and the EU are working bilaterally to advance Canada-EU economic integration and facilitate trade and investment flows. The relationship is built on a base of concluded agreements and ongoing initiatives and negotiations.
On 18 October 2013, Prime Minister Harper and European Commission President José Manuel Barroso announced an agreement in principle on a Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). CETA is, by far, Canada's most ambitious trade initiative. Indeed, it is deeper in ambition and broader in scope than the historic North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The declaration notes that this agreement marks the start of a new, stronger chapter in the long-standing partnership between the EU and Canada.
At the 2007 EU-Canada Summit in Berlin, Canadian and EU Leaders agreed to complete a joint study examining the costs and benefits of pursuing a closer economic partnership. Officials were tasked with completing the joint study before the next (2008) Canada-EU Summit. Among its findings, the study found that significant benefits could be realized by liberalizing trade between Canada and the EU.
The completed study was reviewed by Leaders at the 2008 Canada-EU Summit. In part due to the study's findings, Leaders agreed to pursue a closer economic partnership in an effort unlock the full potential of the Canada-EU economic relationship. Leaders also agreed to take the steps necessary to obtain negotiating mandates with a view to beginning formal negotiations as early as possible in 2009. As a first step, Canadian and EU officials conducted a 'Scoping Exercise' to establish the areas for negotiation of an ambitious and comprehensive economic agreement (see the Joint Report on the EU-Canada Scoping Exercise). The scoping report was completed March 2009, paving the way for the launch of negotiations at the EU-Canada Summit on May 6, 2009 in Prague.