24 Oct 2016
BELGIUM WILL NOT SIGN EU-CANADA TRADE DEAL – 24 OCTOBERBrussels Daily
The Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel has said his country is unable to ratify the EU-Canada trade deal after failing to win the backing of the regional parliament of Wallonia, casting the future of the landmark trade deal into doubt.
The country’s regions were split over the trade deal, with the Visit SiteFrench-speaking regions disagreeing with the deal. Belgium was given a deadline of Monday evening (24 October) to reach agreement, but following a meeting which lasted less than an hour, Mr Michel said he was not in a position to sign the deal. This was confirmed by the head of the Walloon Parliament. “We cannot give agree to this,” said Paul Magnette.
The EU needs the backing of all 28 Member States in order for CETA to get the green light and the deal has now hit a stumbling block due to this latest development. Commissioner Malmström said the Commission has engaged wholeheartedly with Wallonia in recent days and she was truly saddened that talks had broken down.
It is expected that the EU-Canada summit which had been due to take place in Brussels on Thursday 27 October will be cancelled, though some officials have said that the development meant that the deal would be delayed, not abandoned
The stalemate over the comprehensive economic and trade agreement (CETA) between EU and Canada has intensified over the last ten days after Belgium’s French-speaking region failed to endorse the deal.
A meeting of EU Trade Ministers and two-day Summit of EU leaders last week failed to make progress on the deal, pushing discussions into this weekend. But intensive negotiations between senior officials in the EU and the Walloon Parliament failed to break the deadlock.
European Council President Donald Tusk said it was still possible CETA could be signed as planned.. Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s Federal Minister for International Trade, said she too remained hopeful the deal can be salvaged, but that “the ball is in Europe’s court”. Canada is the EU’s 12th largest trading partner.
Under the trade agreement, the total duty-free access the EU will grant to Canada for fresh and frozen beef is 50,000 t, which can be broken down in to 15,000 t of frozen beef, 30,838 t of fresh/chilled beef and 4,162 t of fresh beef.
Along with meat shipments, Canada will also have duty free access into the EU dairy market, while the EU will have a high value cheese quota of 16,800 t and an industrial cheese quota of 1,700 t.
Critics say the deal is a precursor to a larger EU trade pact with the United States under talks known as TTIP.
Fears over corporate power and the roll back of environmental and social standards underpin arguments against both free trade deals.