Thursday

8th Dec 2016

German court clears Canada deal, Wallonia still reluctant

  • 'NO CETA', reads a sign between the buildings of the EU Commission and EU Council in Brussels (Photo: Eszter Zalan)

Germany's constitutional court ruled on Thursday (13 October) that the government can approve the EU-Canada free trade accord under certain conditions, clearing one obstacle to the signature of the deal.

The Karlsruhe-based court rejected appeals by activists to prevent the government from endorsing the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (Ceta) before it has been ratified by EU national parliaments.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

But it also said that the German government must ensure that only rules that fall under EU powers, such as tariffs, should be allowed to come into force provisionally.

EU officials had said earlier that investor protection courts, which were feared to give too much power to multinational companies over governments, would only be set up after national ratifications are completed.

Germany's top court also said the government should pull out of the agreement, if the provisional application goes against the country's constitution.

In essence, the decision means Berlin can sign the deal.

"I am very pleased that we have made a first big step, because if Europe were not able to deal with Canada, this would send a difficult signal in the world," said economy minister Sigmar Gabriel.

While the ruling might be reason for a sigh of relief by the German government, Ceta is still not a done deal.

Walloon woes

On late Wednesday, Belgium's French-speaking community backed a resolution to prevent the federal government from signing the deal.

The federal government in Belgium needs the approval of all regional assemblies to go ahead with the accord.

Wallonia's president, the socialist Paul Magnette is to meet with French president Francois Hollande on Friday afternoon in Paris.

Hollande, a Socialist like Magnette, will try to pressure him to accept the deal.

However, the Wallonian Socialists are resulctant to cave in. The regional parliament of Wallonia is scheduled to vote on the issue on Friday, and is expected to ask the Wallonian government to reject the deal.

EU trade ministers are due to vote on the accord next Tuesday and the EU and Canada are due to sign the deal at a summit on 27 October.

An EU official said that there were no plans at this point to cancel the meeting in light of the developments in Belgium.

Trudeau frustration

In the meantime, Canada's prime minister Justin Trudeau gave vent to some of the frustration with the European ratification process at a press conference with France's prime minister Manuel Valls.

"If the European Union does not approve a landmark free trade deal with Canada, the world will realise the 28-nation bloc is heading down the wrong path," he said on Thursday.

"It is time to decide what the European Union is for," he added, saying that in an increasingly divided and insecure international environment, Ceta could set new standards and bring the EU and Canada closer.

EU public lacks voice on banking laws

The complexity of financial laws and lack of NGO resources means the “man in the street” has little say on EU banking regulation, the EU Commission has warned.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Swedish EnterprisesMEPs and Business Representatives Debated on the Future of the EU at the Winter Mingle
  2. ACCASets Out Fifty Key Factors in the Public Sector Accountants Need to Prepare for
  3. UNICEFSchool “as Vital as Food and Medicine” for Children Caught up in Conflict
  4. European Jewish CongressEJC President Breathes Sigh of Relief Over Result of Austrian Presidential Election
  5. CESICongress Re-elects Klaus Heeger & Romain Wolff as Secretary General & President
  6. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAustrian Association for Betting and Gambling Joins EGBA
  7. ACCAWomen of Europe Awards: Celebrating the Women who are Building Europe
  8. European Heart NetworkWhat About our Kids? Protect Children From Unhealthy Food and Drink Marketing
  9. ECR GroupRestoring Trust and Confidence in the European Parliament
  10. UNICEFChild Rights Agencies Call on EU to put Refugee and Migrant Children First
  11. MIRAIA New Vision on Clean Tech: Balancing Energy Efficiency, Climate Change and Costs
  12. World VisionChildren Cannot Wait! 7 Priority Actions to Protect all Refugee and Migrant Children