EU-Canada deal may be done soon
A TROUBLED EU-Canada free trade deal can be signed “next week” despite the last minute opposition of the Belgian region of Wallonia, said EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem yesterday.
“I am not sure we will be able to make a decision today, but hopefully we’ll move forward and can make a decision very soon,” Ms Malmstroem said as she arrived for emergency talks with EU trade ministers in Luxembourg.
In a shock vote, the small Belgian region of Wallonia voted last week to block the deal, known as CETA – meaning that Belgium itself cannot sign up to the pact after seven years of negotiations.
The vote threatened to torpedo the deal’s long-delayed signing by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Brussels on October 27.
A failure of CETA would deliver a sharp warning to post-Brexit Britain about the difficulty of reaching an ambitious trade deal with the EU.
Ms Malmstroem said she remained optimistic that the concerns of Wallonia will be addressed in time for the summit through a so-called interpretative document that would also be agreed to by Canada.
“I think that next week, we will be able to sign the declaration with the Canadian government,” she said.
In the complicated maze of Belgian politics, Belgium’s federal government is unable to sign off on trade deals without the backing of all its regional and linguistic parliaments.
“In Belgium, we still have some convincing to do,” said Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders as he arrived at the talks. –