Sunday

17th Dec 2017

Wallonia hinders Canada-EU trade deal

  • The Canada trade deal is supposed to be signed on 27 October (Photo: Artem Popov)

Belgium's Wallonia region will block the federal government from signing the Canada-EU free trade accord, after a vote in the regional assembly on Friday (14 October) against approving the agreement.

"I will not give powers to the federal government and Belgium will not sign Ceta [the agreement] on 18 October," Wallonian prime minister Paul Magnette said on Friday.

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.

But, Magnette said the vote should not be seen as being against trade or Canada.

He said that the so-called joint interpretative declaration, that clarifies the deal, does not give enough guarantees, as it does not have the same legal weight as the accord itself.

The French-speaking region has concerns about the deal's social and environmental impact, which could be addressed in a legally binding declaration.

The assembly voted 46 votes in favour, 16 against and one abstention.

Belgium's federal government needs the approval of all the country's six assemblies to sign the deal.

Wallonia's stalling is a diplomatic blow to the EU and its trade policy, as talks with US on a free trade deal also grind to a halt.

It also raises questions about future trade talks with the UK, as it exits the bloc.

EU trade ministers are due to gather in Luxembourg next Tuesday to approve the Canada deal, so it can be signed with prime minister Justin Trudeau in Brussels on 27 October.

Magnette on Friday urged the Belgian government to renegotiate the interpretative text, saying four or five EU member states are reluctant about the deal.

"We need to return to the negotiating table," he said. "We are less isolated than people think," he added.

Magnette is expected to travel to Paris later on Friday to discuss the issue with French president Francois Hollande.

"I am worried about the future of Europe, why add another crisis?," AFP quoted Belgian foreign minister Didier Reynders, who still hopes to approve the deal, at Tuesday's talks with EU ministers.

The EU Commission on Friday did not want to comment on the vote in Wallonia.

"The process has begun, it is underway, we are following the debate in member states," a spokesman said.

The Slovak presidency of the EU said later on Friday that it is not for the presidency to comment the internal legislative process in Belgium.

"We have full confidence that in the end, Belgium will be on board, able to support the package at the trade ministers meeting next Tuesday. The Council meeting is set to take place as planned," they said in a statement.

"We are convinced that the overall deal is good and balanced," it added.

Belgian nail-biter threatens EU free trade

Officials have launched an 11th-hour mission to stop Wallonia, a Belgian region, from blocking a major deal with Canada, amid a broader rethink on EU free trade.

Migration looms over summit, as Africa pledges fall short

EU summit leaders on Thursday will not reach any deal on migration, while Italy and the Visegrad Group countries confront each other on the Trust Fund for Africa. The debate on internal EU asylum relocation, however, remains off the table.

Romania searching for EU respectability

Ten years after its accession and a year before holding the EU presidency, the fastest-growing EU economy wants to "engage" more with its partners. But concerns over the rule of law continue to give the country a bad image.

News in Brief

  1. EU adopts 'track-and-trace' tobacco system
  2. Luxembourg appeals Amazon tax decision
  3. EU leaders agree to open phase 2 of Brexit talks
  4. Juncker: May made 'big efforts' on Brexit
  5. Merkel took 'tough' line on Russia at EU summit
  6. EU leaders added line supporting 'two-state' solution
  7. EU leaders agree to 20 European Universities by 2024
  8. Belgian courts end legal proceedings against Puigdemont

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel
  2. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% plastics recycling rate attainable by 2025 new study shows
  3. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  4. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  5. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  6. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  8. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  10. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaEU-Armenia Relations in the CEPA Era: What's Next?
  12. Mission of China to the EU16+1 Cooperation Injects New Vigour Into China-EU Ties

Latest News

  1. Catalonia, Brexit, and Uber on EU agenda This WEEK
  2. Macron and Merkel take tough line on Poland
  3. Eurozone future needs structural reforms, EU leaders told
  4. Showdown EU vote on asylum looking likely for next June
  5. EU stresses unity as it launches next phase of Brexit talks
  6. Polish PM ready for EU sanctions scrap
  7. Dutchman to lead powerful euro working group
  8. EU mulls post-Brexit balance of euro and non-eurozone states