Wednesday

1st Apr 2020

Belgian local parliament votes to block Canada trade deal

  • The EU-Canada free trade deal, Ceta, was finalised in February this year after almost seen years of negotiations. (Photo: Cornelia Reetz, Mehr Demokratie)

Members of the parliament of the Federation Wallonia-Brussels voted a resolution on Wednesday (12 October) that could block the signing of the EU-Canada free trade deal, Ceta.

The deputies, who represent Belgium's French-speaking community, voted by 68 votes against 23 a text calling the region's president not to authorise the Belgian government to sign the deal.

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They ask that negotiations with Canada are open again in a "transparent, democratic and inclusive" way.

Under Belgian law, the federal government needs approval from the country's seven entities - regions and linguistic communities - to sign international agreements.

Ceta was finalised in February this year after almost seven years of negotiations.

EU and Canadian leaders hope to sign it at the end of this month when Canada's prime minister Justin Trudeau comes to Brussels.

EU trade ministers will first meet on 18 October to decide whether to sign it or not. Belgium could be outvoted if ministers cannot find unanimity and organise a vote with a qualified majority. But an EU source told EUobserver that holding a vote on the issue would be politically difficult.

The parliament's resolution is not binding, and the president of the Federation Wallonia-Brussels, Rudy Demotte, could decide not to block Ceta and authorise the federal prime minister Charles Michel to sign the deal.

The Belgian federal parliament and the Dutch-speaking Flanders region support Ceta, but the French-speaking assembly could vote against it.

On Friday, the parliament of the French-speaking Wallonia region will also vote on a resolution calling the federal prime minister Charles Michel not to sign Ceta. It already adopted an anti-Ceta resolution in April.

The Brussels-Capital region could also vote against the deal.

The votes come as prime minister Michel is already weakened by a deadlock in his coalition government over next year's budget. Opposition on Ceta from several parliaments would put him in a difficult position, domestically as well as within the EU.

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EU states could sign off the Canada-EU trade deal next week, if the consitutional court in Germany, or a Belgian regional parliament does not stop them.

Canada woos sceptical EU left on trade deal

Future of CETA largely hangs on the support of Europe’s social democrats. Canada’s trade minister has been touring hotspots of scepticism to convince them that the deal is progressive.

Wallonia hinders Canada-EU trade deal

The French speaking region of Belgium refused to authorise the federal government to sign the Canada-EU trade deal, wanting guarantees of further negotiation to sooth concerns.

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