23rd Oct 2016

Belgian region still saying No to EU-Canada trade pact

  • Opposition to the trade deal with Canada and USA made clear in front of the EU commission's headquarters in Brussels (Photo: Eszter Zalan)

EU ambassadors are to discuss in a last minute attempt on Monday evening (17 October) how to accomodate Belgium's concerns over the Canada-EU trade agreement (Ceta), after the Wallonian regional parliament rejected the accord last week.

The agreement is due to be adopted by EU trade ministers on Tuesday in Luxembourg, but Belgium and Romania are holding off.

The Belgian federal government cannot give its consent without Wallonia's authorisation.

Romania is still in talks with Canada over visa-free travel, as visa requirements for Romanian citizens traveling to Canada have made Bucharest reluctant to sign the deal.

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau is due in Brussels on 27 October to sign the Ceta agreement with the EU.

The EU Commission in July decided that national and regional assemblies should be part of the approval process amid calls by some EU leaders to involve national parliaments more in European policies.

Offcials ruled out using a qualified majority vote to outvote Belgium in the council in order to avoid further stalemate.

The issue could even land on the agenda of EU leaders who gather for a summit on Thursday in Brussels.

EU officials are hoping that tweaking the so-called "joint interpretative declaration", which sets out a common understanding of the agreement with the Canadians, would soothe Wallonia's concerns, however.

But the French-speaking region's Socialist prime minister Paul Magnette is holding out despite international pressure to give the green light.

"Time is needed ... We will need a few extra days," he told the Walloon parliament on Monday.

"This is a very difficult fight, we have sometimes got veiled threats in recent hours," he said about the mounting pressure on his region.

Failing to sign Ceta would be a major embarassment for the EU, as it could lose credibility as a trading partner globally.


Europe ready to tackle Greek debt relief

The Greek government has built and broadened alliances in EU institutions and member-states that acknowledge the need to restructure the debt and deliver another economic model for the eurozone.

News in Brief

  1. Canada and Wallonia end talks without Ceta deal
  2. Juncker hopes for Canada accord in 'next few days'
  3. Romania drops opposition to Ceta
  4. Difficulties remain on Ceta deal, says Walloon leader
  5. Brexit could lead to 'some civil unrest' in Northern Ireland
  6. ECB holds rates and continues quantitive easing programme
  7. Support for Danish People's Party drops, poll
  8. Spain's highest court overturns Catalan ban on bullfighting

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFADraft Bill for a 2nd Scottish Independence Referendum
  2. UNICEFCalls on European Council to Address Plight of Refugee and Migrant Children
  3. ECTAJoin us on 9-10 November in Brussels and Discover the new EU Digital Landscape
  4. Access NowCan you Hear me now? Verizon’s Opportunity to Stand for Global Users
  5. Belgrade Security ForumMeaningful Dialogue Missing Not Only in the Balkans, but Throughout Europe
  6. EASPDJoin the Trip! 20 Years on the Road. Conference & Photo Exhibition on 19-21 October
  7. EuropecheEU Fishing Sector Celebrates Sustainably Sourced Seafood in EU Parliament
  8. World VisionWomen and Girls Urge EU Leadership to Help end Gender-based Violence
  9. Dialogue PlatformIs Jihadism Blind Spot of Western Intellectuals ? Wednesday 26 October
  10. Belgrade Security ForumGet the Latest News and Updates on the Belgrade Security Forum @BelSecForum
  11. Crowdsourcing Week EuropeMaster Crowdsourcing, Crowdfunding and Innovation! Conference 21 November - 10% Discount Code CSWEU16
  12. EJCEU Parliament's Roadmap for Relations with Iran a Massive Missed Opportunity