Sunday

22nd Oct 2017

Wallonia rejects fresh EU ultimatum on Canada trade deal

The government of Belgium's French-speaking Walloon region rejected a fresh EU ultimatum to sign off on an EU free trade deal with Canada over the weekend.

Wallonia's minister-president Paul Magnette on Sunday (23 October) reportedly denounced a new European Commission proposal that aimed to alleviate concerns over an arbitration system that allows big firms to sue countries.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

A source close to Magnette told the AFP that the commission proposal, sent Sunday, was even less progressive than those received on Friday and Saturday.

The commission proposal had also come with an ultimatum for the Walloon government to secure the deal by late Monday at the risk of cancelling the pact altogether.

Magnette told the Belga news agency that such an ultimatum was “not compatible with the exercise of democratic rights”.

A marmalade of texts

Walloon parliament spokesman Andre Antoine described the deal as a “marmalade of texts”.

“I have 300 pages of treaty, 1,300 pages of annexes. I have two, maybe three interpretative declarations. I have one interpretative instrument. I have emails, I have mails, I have bilateral declarations. I even have now a declaration from Belgium with other countries,” he told RTL Belgique radio on Monday (24 October).

The latest move follows a stand-off between EU trade negotiators and the Walloon government over outstanding issues on the EU-Canada deal, Ceta.

Belgium's government needs the support from all five of its regional authorities before it can sign off the deal.

The Walloons have so far refused despite direct appeals by Canada's minister for trade, Chrystia Freeland, who returned to Canada on Saturday amid threats to scupper an agreement that took years to negotiate.

Talks to reach a deal and appease Walloon concerns also appear increasingly acrimonious.

Magnette on Saturday hit back at EU negotiators for their persistence on getting Belgium to back a deal largely panned by anti-globalisation groups.

"It's a shame that the European Union pressure on those blocking the fight against fiscal fraud is not as intense," tweeted the Socialist regional leader.

Corporate power

Critics say the deal is a precursor to a larger EU trade pact with the United States under talks known as TTIP.

Fears over corporate power and the roll back of environmental and social standards underpin arguments against both free trade deals.

Wallonia's continued resistance to Ceta also casts doubts on whether Canada's prime minister Justin Trudeau will arrive in Brussels on Thursday to sign the deal.

European Council chief Donald Tusk is expected to discuss the latest developments on Monday with Trudeau and Belgium's prime minister Charles Michel.

Canada is the EU's 12th largest trading partner.

Ceta failure deepens EU trade crisis

Canada said on Friday that the free-trade agreement with the EU had failed and that the bloc was "not capable" of concluding agreements.

EU and Wallonia still stuck on Canada accord

While EU ambassadors gave their tacit apporoval for a new text based on wallonia's requests, the French-speaking Belgian region again rejected to sign off the Canada-EU trade deal.

Belgian veto leaves EU-Canada deal in limbo

Belgium prime minister Charles Michel said he was not able to sign Ceta because of a veto by Wallonia and other French-speaking entities. But an EU-Canada summit could still take place this week.

Belgians meet for fresh Canada talks

Negotiators made headway on Tuesday but failed to break the deadlock on the EU-Canada free-trade agreement, which is still blocked by Belgium's French-speaking entities.

Trade deal ratification needs member states, EU court says

The EU Court of Justice has ruled that the Singapore trade deal needs member states' ratification in its current form. It said that only investments do not belong under the EU's sole competence, potentially removing Brexit complications.

MEPs set to approve Canada trade deal

The European Parliament is expected to give the green light to the EU-Canada free trade agreement, which would start being implemented in April.

News in Brief

  1. Rajoy to trigger Article 155 on Saturday in Catalan crisis
  2. EU conducts unannounced inspection of German car firm
  3. Lithuania calls for new EU energy laws
  4. EU leaders aim for December for defence cooperation
  5. Juncker says hands tied on Russia pipeline
  6. Czechs set to elect billionaire Andrej Babis
  7. Italian regions hold referendums on more autonomy
  8. EU leaders refuse to mediate Catalonia conflict

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi Jinping Proposes Stronger Global Security Governance at Interpol Assembly
  2. European Friends of ArmeniaEU Engagement Could Contribute to Lasting Peace in Nagorno-Karabakh
  3. UNICEFViolence in Myanmar Driving 12,000 Rohingya Refugee Children Into Bangladesh Every Week
  4. European Jewish CongressBulgaria Applauded for Adopting the Working Definition of Antisemitism
  5. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  6. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  8. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  9. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  10. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  11. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe
  12. CECEE-Privacy Regulation – Hands off M2M Communication!

Latest News

  1. The mysterious German behind Orban's Russian deals
  2. Mogherini urged to do more on Russian propaganda
  3. Turkey funding cuts signal EU mood shift
  4. Posted workers top EU agenda This Week
  5. Leaders lobby to host EU agencies at summit's margins
  6. Legal tweak could extend EU control on Russia pipeline
  7. Ukraine language law does not harm minorities
  8. EU begins preparations for Brexit trade talks