Daily Management Review

EU, Belgium make progress in the CETA negotiations


Belgium has had a new round of negotiations to resolve a dispute over the Free Trade Agreement between the EU and Canada (CETA), on the basis of which the parties have made some progress. However, a number of issues still has to be clarified, according to Reuters.

Dr Les Sachs via flickr
Dr Les Sachs via flickr
The most important obstacle to the deal was the fact that government of Wallonia, the French-speaking region of Belgium, has opposed the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between the EU and Canada. To sign the CETA, the federal government must obtain consent of the Belgian regional authorities.

Failure of the negotiations on Wednesday night prompted the Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau to cancel a planned visit to Brussels for a summit, which was supposed to be an agreement signed.

"We have a number of legal questions yet to be clarified. We have made significant progress." - said Prime Minister of Wallonia Paul Magnette.

According to Belgian television channel RTBF, with reference to Prime Minister Charles Michel, "the agreement was reached in the framework a committee, which was charged with finding common ground on the CETA between the federal authorities and the sub-federal regions". "Text of the agreement was sent directly to the Committee of Permanent Representatives of the EU", - said Michel.

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel has gathered leaders of regions and linguistic communities of Belgium to allay concerns about import of agricultural products and dispute settlement system. Particularly these questions troubled critics of the CETA.

The deal, approved in Belgium, now has to be submitted for approval to the rest of the EU Member States before the agreement is signed.

EU officials said that the EU - Canada summit is delayed without specifying a new date for the meeting.

Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the European Union and Canada should be the first trade agreement between the union and a G7 country. Failure to deal with Canada would call into question the EU's ability to enter into such trade agreements, and underline challenges that UK may face in establishing new trade relations with the EU after leaving the block. 

Romania insisted that Canada allows visa-free entry for Romanian citizens. However, more important obstacle is that Government of Wallonia, a French-speaking region of Belgium, does not allow the federal government to sign the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between the EU and Canada. To stamp the deal, the federal government must obtain consent of the Belgian regional authorities. 

source: reuters.com

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