The European Union Parliament approved on Wednesday a hotly contested free trade deal with Canada after seven years of negotiations.
Lawmakers backed the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) 408 votes to 254, meaning large parts of the deal can enter into force as soon as next month.
Proponents of the deal say it will create jobs and reduce the cost of food and consumer goods for ordinary people. But opponents fear that the current standard of consumer goods could deteriorate.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Presidential candidate and founder of the movement “Unsubmissive France” (LFI) was one of the opponents. Though it seemed likely the vote would not fall in his favour, he still took the opportunity to hold a campaign meeting in the Northeastern French city.
His objective: to show that he is the only coherent candidate in the battle against the treaty. The Socialists, under the leadership of their Presidential candidate Benoît Hamon are divided on the issue. At the end of January, a resolution was passed in favor of a referendum when the text was given to the French Parliament. The Socialist reply was to abstain. “More conscientious” on the issue, according to the MEP Guillaume Balas, French Socialist MEPs all opposed the treaty.
Mélenchon unlikely to work with the Socialists
This socialist division is a welcome weapon for Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who tries to regain influence and weight in the polls. “The atmosphere of this presidential election among the Socialists is furiously similar to that of 2012, when Francois Hollande promised to renegotiate the European treaties, without anything to follow,” said Alexis Corbière, spokesman for Jean-Luc Mélenchon. “We may be hard-heads and pest-legs, but we do not want these ridiculous statements!”
About Hamon, Corbiere said,” we are led to believe that what matters is the Head of State and that the Parliament, behind, will have to follow. But it’s a funny way to see things. And for him, it’s not the Hamon tree that will hide the socialist forest!”
An alliance with the Socialists in the presidential election therefore looks unlikely. Same for the legislative elections. “We are not having a discussion for a few places here or there. There is no question of a replastering of circumstances that consecrates the marriage of the carp and the rabbit, ,” warned Corbière.
The message was addressed to the Socialists. But also to the French Community Party (PCF) who, agree on some issues with the PS and the ecologists in some constituencies. National Secretary of the PCF, Pierre Laurent has already met with Benoît Hamon on this issue the day after the victory of the Socialist.