Let's be honest: Canada doesn't really matter as a trading partner. Even the exchange of goods with a small EU partner like Finland is more important for Germany. But as little as the division of labor with Canada is economically relevant for Germany, the rules by which it takes place have become just as important.
Ceta, the comprehensive free trade agreement between Brussels and Ottawa, is actually not particularly noteworthy. But it has enormous symbolic power because it was completed just at the time when a real and hitherto unknown anti-free trade movement was growing up in Germany in protest against the planned European-American TTIP agreement.
Nothing ever came of TTIP because of the resistance of the protectionists from the left on the European side (Attac) and from the right on the US side (Trump). So the focus turned to the wrinkled older brother, Ceta.
The opponents of free trade, like the dwindling crowd of die-hard globalization fans, quickly realized how much was at stake with Ceta. If even a free trade agreement that has already been negotiated with such a small and harmless trading partner as Canada can no longer get through the ratification process in Europe, then the hope of a further reduction in trade barriers can be buried immediately.
This is also because the rest of the world will take a close look: which foreign head of government should still campaign for trade policy concessions towards the Europeans among citizens and parliamentarians at home if he or she has to assume that the negotiated treaty will not have legal force in the EU anyway will attain?
It is therefore good news that the Bundestag has now waved Ceta through; and that the Greens were held responsible. Economics Minister Robert Habeck, who is responsible for trade policy, and with him his party friend Annalena Baerbock, seem to have understood that the urgent need to break free from economic dependence on China is only conceivable if the division of labor with other parts of the world, especially with the Allies, is deepened becomes.
In this way, free trade policy in Germany is being extended – because Habeck, as trade minister, is showing the kind of pragmatism that he only pretended to be as energy minister.