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France’s lower house of parliament has approved a huge yet controversial trade deal between the European Union and Canada, with a small majority. 266 votes were cast in favour and 213 were against the agreement.

There was an intense debate about the environmental impacts of the deal and many ruling parties rebelled against it. Non governmental organizations reached to lawmakers and were insistent that the treaty be rejected.

A speech was even given by a young Swedish climate campaigner Greta Thunberg in the National Assembly earlier in the day in which she rallied for more climate protection. But all was overruled when the French government dismissed fears about the impacts on the environment and on the farming sector particularly, by saying that the agreement includes safeguards, and Canadian imports will have to meet strict EU rules.

According to European officials, the trade deal removes tariffs on nearly all goods and services between Canada and Europe and has led to a rise of 15 percent in EU exports to Canada.

President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday that Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, CETA, “is going in the right direction, if it’s implemented properly, to build a new commercial, environmental and social agenda”. The Senate, will now vote on the legislation before it is signed by the French President.

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