Canada-European Union comprehensive economic and trade agreement: Trade and environment chapter

Official title: Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA): Trade and Environment Chapter

Subject category:
Environmental Cooperation
Type of agreement / instrument:
Legally-binding treaty
  • Signed by Canada on October 30, 2016.
  • Provisional application since September 21, 2017.
Lead & partner departments:
Environment and Climate Change Canada
Global Affairs Canada
For further information:
Web links:
ECCC Inquiry Centre
Compendium edition:
February 2022
Reference #:

Plain language summary

CETA includes a substantive chapter on the environment. This chapter incorporates commitments to help ensure that trade and environmental protection are mutually supportive and reinforcing, so that Canadians can benefit not only from liberalized trade, but also from a healthy environment.

In the environment chapter, parties agree to enforce domestic environmental laws and ensure the promotion of public awareness and transparency for those laws. The environmental chapter also requires parties to maintain high levels of environmental protection. The chapter also promotes sustainable resource management in relation to trade in forest and fish products and cooperation on trade-related environmental issues of common interest. Matters covered by the chapter will be overseen by the Committee on Trade and Sustainable Development that is composed of senior officials from Environment and Climate Change Canada, Global Affairs Canada, Employment and Social Development Canada and the European Commission Directorate General for Trade.


The objectives of the Trade and Environment Chapter are to support sustainable development, strengthen environmental governance, build on the international environmental agreements to which both Canada and the EU are a party, and complement the objectives of CETA. These objectives are supported by provisions that include both commitments and mechanisms for dialogue and cooperation on trade and environment issues.

Key elements

Commitments to ensure high levels of environmental protection and effective enforcement of environmental laws.

A non-derogation clause that obligates the countries not to relax their environmental laws in order to encourage trade or investment.

Provisions on dispute resolution regarding obligations identified in the Agreement.

Provisions to ensure that information regarding environmental laws and policies is made available to the public.

Provisions relating to the promotion of trade and investment in environmental goods and services.

Provisions outlining that the Committee on Trade and Sustainable Development is responsible for overseeing articles outlined in the Chapter.

Expected results

High levels of environmental protection are maintained, and improved while increasing bilateral trade flows.

Provide effective mechanisms to raise and resolve concerns about the effective enforcement of domestic environmental laws.

Canada’s involvement

Environment and Climate Change Canada works with the European Commission’s Directorate General for Trade to implement this agreement, in partnership with external experts (including representatives of other government departments/agencies, academics, private sector and NGOs) where appropriate.

Since the provisional entry into force of CETA, the EU and Canada have been actively working to establish CETA's governance structure including the setting up of the multiple committees and dialogues as required under the Agreement. This includes the Committee on Trade and Sustainable Development, which oversees the Trade and Environment Chapter.

In August 2019, the Canadian Domestic Advisory Group (CEDAG) was formed as the consultative mechanism under the agreement. The CEDAG is comprised of ten representatives from civil society including business organizations, non-profits, and Indigenous organizations to provide views and advice to the Government on issues related to CETA’s Trade and Environment Chapter.

Results / progress


The Committee on Trade and Sustainable Development is required to meet every year or as mutually decided by parties in order to discuss the implementation of the environment chapter, including cooperation activities and the review of CETA’s impact on sustainable development. This first meeting of the Committee on Trade and Sustainable Development took place on September 13, 2018 in Brussels and has been followed by yearly meetings since. The fourth meeting of Committee took place virtually on February 9-10, 2022.

The Civil Society Forum (CSF) is required to meet annually, unless otherwise agreed to by the parties, in order to conduct a dialogue on the sustainable development aspects of this agreement. The CSF is required to include representatives from relevant stakeholder groups including employers, labour, business organizations, and environmental groups. Four CSF have taken place under CETA with the latest was held virtually on February 7-8, 2022.

Canada and the EU have co-hosted two clean technologies workshops. Held on November 2019 and March 2021, these events brought together Canadian and European companies, facilitated business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-government (B2G) meetings and highlighted how clean tech trade and investment can help accelerate the shift to cleaner economies and build synergies among different sectors.


The Committee on Trade and Sustainable Development is required to make any decision or report public, unless the committee decides otherwise.


The CETA Joint Committee formally adopted the Recommendation on trade and climate prepared as part of the implementation work of the Committee on Trade and Sustainable Development, on 26 September 2018. Over the past two years, Canada and the EU have engaged in a number of activities to implement the Recommendation on trade and climate. These activities have included the Canada-EU virtual meeting on priorities in January 2020, the CETA Environmental Civil Society Workshop hosted by the CEDAG in March 2020, and a Canada-EU expert exchange on the environmental impact of trade agreements on biodiversity and the Canadian sustainability modelling framework held on January 2022.

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