Breaking News: Belgium breaks CETA deadlock

Charles Michel

Belgian politicians have reached a consensus in support of the troubled CETA trade deal between Canada and the EU, which remains unsigned but does have a future.

The Prime Minister of Belgium, Charles Michel, has said “an agreement” has been found with his recalcitrant Wallonia region to allow the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) free trade deal to proceed. Wallonia had been holding up agreement amid fears about a weakening of labour, environmental and consumer standards.

PM Michel has tweeted that, however, “all [regional] parliaments are now able to approve” the deal.

CETA remains unsigned though after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau cancelled his planned visit to the European Union (EU) capital Brussels today, after deeming the chances of saving it to be slim following Belgium’s earlier rejection of the deal this week.

All of the remaining 27 EU nations must still approve CETA, but Belgium was the major stumbling block and the road to a signing is now open after seven years of negotiation. CETA was supposed to eliminate 98% of tariffs between the EU and Canada, saving the former’s exporters EUR500m in duties annually.

European Council (EC) President, Donald Tusk, seemed embarrassed about inviting Canadian PM Justin Trudeau back to Brussels again until any remaining impediments are cleared. He tweeted: “Only once all procedures are finalised for EU signing CETA, will I contact PM @JustinTrudeau”.

Canada’s Foreign Minister, Stephane Dion, told the ‘BBC’ he was “cautiously optimistic” that the deal was back on track, but added “once bitten, twice shy … we hope the Europeans have agreed between themselves because Canada is ready to sign.”

  • Please click here to see GTNews’ coverage of CETA this week and for any more late breaking developments in this story.

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