Juncker hopes for Canada trade deal in a ‘few days’
BRUSSELS: European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker said yesterday he hoped that a stalled EU freetrade deal with Canada can be struck in the coming days. “I hope we can see an agreed settlement in a few days,” Juncker told a press conference as opposition from a Belgian regional government prevented the unanimous EU-wide support needed for the deal to be adopted.
“If I am saying that I hope an agreement will be found in the next couple of days, this does include today.” He denied that the European Union summit, which wraps up on Friday, was the deadline for the deal. Juncker has warned that if the EU fails to reach such an agreement with Canada, it will likely scupper trade talks with other parts of the world, including ongoing negotiations with the United States. The head of the Belgian region of Wallonia, Paul Magnette, yesterday said he still refused to sign off on the deal with Canada, calling a last-minute offer “insufficient” even though he added there “is a will to advance.”
Magnette spoke after marathon talks with Canadian Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland and an EU official in the capital of Wallonia, the walled medieval city of Namur, 70 km (40 miles) southeast of Brussels. The Namur parliament last week voted to block the deal, known as CETA-meaning that Belgium cannot sign up to the pact and leaving the deal in limbo after seven years of negotiations.The hold-up also threatens to torpedo next week’s planned visit to Brussels by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to sign the deal. — AFP