Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, has told MEPs the European Union is vital to the world’s peace and prosperity, in a rousing speech that appeared to distance him from the United States under Donald Trump.
Speaking in both English and French, Trudeau told the European parliament that the EU was an unprecedented model for cooperation and that an effective European voice on the global stage was not just preferable but essential.
“You are a vital player in addressing the challenges that we collectively face as an international community. Indeed, the whole world benefits from a strong EU,” he said.
Trump, whom Trudeau met in Washington this week, has questioned the value and future of the EU.
Responding to Trudeau’s appearance, the British Labour MEP Seb Dance tweeted: “Trudeau, unlike our PM, showing you can remain a key ally without being obsequious and criticise them openly when you think they’re wrong.”
Speaking 24 hours after the European parliament passed the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (Ceta) between Canada and the EU, Trudeau also said his country and Europe had shared values and needed to provide leadership.
“We know that in these times we must choose to lead the international economy, not simply be subject to its whims,” he said.
Ceta is seen by many in Canada as important to reduce its reliance on the US as an export market.
However, Trudeau acknowledged the fears that many have about the impact of globalisation and the breakdown of protections on the public sector.
Canada and the EU needed to ensure the trade deal – which is set to come into force within months – worked for everyone, he said. “If we are successful, Ceta will become the blueprint for all ambitious, future trade deals. If we are not, this could very well be the last. So make no mistake, this is an important moment for us.”
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At a press conference after his speech, when asked about his recent visit to the White House, Trudeau said that while there may be differences in “perspective or ideology” he believed the US shared the same goals.
In reference to his talks with Trump, Trudeau said: “We were very much focused on what we are going to do to help the middle class and help those working hard to join it.”
Trudeau will next visit the German chancellor, Angela Merkel.