Anti-free trade activists rallied outside the European Parliament (EP) offices in Strasbourg, Wednesday, as the body approved the vast majority of the Comprehensive economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada.
The deal was approved by 408 votes to 254, with 33 abstentions.
The Canadian Press wire service said the European Union is Canada's second largest trading partner after the U.S.
Climate campaigners said the reform did not go far enough to meet the EU's Paris climate pledge and help reach the its goal of a 43 percent cut in greenhouse gases from industries and power plants covered by the market compared with 2005. Ceta has been described as the little brother of equally opposed US-EU trade deal "TTIP", which looks to have collapsed following widespread opposition previous year.
While the other three leftist Bulgarian MEPs were among those voting against, the vote in favour by Stanishev - formerly Bulgaria's prime minister, from 2005 to 2009, and who led the BSP for more than decade - was highlighted with glee by Boiko Borissov's centre-right GERB party.
All imports from Canada would still be required to comply with European Union rules and regulations, particularly in areas related to food safety, including genetically modified organism (GMO) products and the ban on hormone-treated beef.
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When asked today about possible hiccups once CETA gets kicked to national parliaments, Canada's Trade Minister François-Philippe Champagne said he is "looking very closely" at those votes.
The deal will drop barriers between the EU's economy of half a billion people and Canada's 35 million.
"[You will have] free access to markets in Canada and if you are in professional services then you can pitch tender for jobs and for contracts in Canada". "This trade deal has been subject to an in-depth parliamentary scrutiny which reflects the increased interest of citizens in trade policy".
The EU and Canada formally signed the deal in October after seven years of tough talks, overcoming last-minute resistance from a small Belgian region that blocked its national government from approving the accord.
Last month Liam Fox, the trade secretary, visited his Canadian counterpart in Montreal where they agreed it would provide a platform for any bespoke United Kingdom deal after we leave the EU.