Europe

EU on the verge of approving trade deal with Canada

  • Activists stage a demonstration against the so-called CETA trade deal outside the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France, Wednesday, Feb.15, 2017. The European Union Commission and most of the major parliamentary groups made a final push to approve a landmark trade deal with Canada ahead of a decisive noon vote in the EU's legislature. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)

    Activists stage a demonstration against the so-called CETA trade deal outside the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France, Wednesday, Feb.15, 2017. The European Union Commission and most of the major parliamentary groups made a final push to approve a landmark trade deal with Canada ahead of a decisive noon vote in the EU's legislature. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)  (The Associated Press)

  • Activists stage a demonstration against the so-called CETA trade deal outside the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France, Wednesday, Feb.15, 2017. The European Union Commission and most of the major parliamentary groups made a final push to approve a landmark trade deal with Canada ahead of a decisive noon vote in the EU's legislature. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)

    Activists stage a demonstration against the so-called CETA trade deal outside the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France, Wednesday, Feb.15, 2017. The European Union Commission and most of the major parliamentary groups made a final push to approve a landmark trade deal with Canada ahead of a decisive noon vote in the EU's legislature. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)  (The Associated Press)

  • Demonstrators march against the so-called CETA trade deal near the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France, Wednesday, Feb.15, 2017. The European Union's parliament approved a trade deal with Canada, extolling the pact as a sign of cooperation at a time when many political forces, including U.S. President Donald Trump's administration, are trying to halt globalization. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)

    Demonstrators march against the so-called CETA trade deal near the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France, Wednesday, Feb.15, 2017. The European Union's parliament approved a trade deal with Canada, extolling the pact as a sign of cooperation at a time when many political forces, including U.S. President Donald Trump's administration, are trying to halt globalization. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)  (The Associated Press)

The European Union Commission and most of the major parliamentary groups are making a final push to approve a landmark trade deal with Canada ahead of a decisive vote in the EU's legislature.

At the same time, hundreds of protesters were already outside the parliament building in Strasbourg, France, arguing that instead of growth and jobs, such a deal will bring an erosion of environmental, labor and consumer standards.

Ahead of the noon vote, EU trade Chief Cecilia Malmstrom tried to assuage concerns that the deal uniting some 500 million Europeans with 35 million Canadians would cut into the independence of EU decision-making. She said it "will not change food safety standards or any other EU requirements, only the EU institutions can do that."