Wallonia rejects EU-Canada trade deal ultimatum
The speaker of the Walloon parliament told broadcaster RTL on Monday that it was not possible to comply with an EU ultimatum to end the region’s objection to the EU-Canada trade deal by the end of the day.
André Antoine said Wallonia wanted “transparency and democracy to be respected” in negotiations for the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).
The EU had warned that unless the parliament in Wallonia on Monday provided assurances CETA would pass, it would cancel a summit on Thursday to sign the deal with Canada.
Paul Magnette, Wallonia’s minister-president, had said Sunday that the EU’s ultimatum was “not compatible with the exercise of democratic rights.”
The parliament of Wallonia-Brussels vetoed CETA, potentially putting an end to the agreement, which was seven years in the making. Belgium’s constitution requires all five regional governments to approve the trade deal before the federal government can give consent.
Also Monday, the French-speaking Socialist Party confirmed it would not endorse the EU-Canada trade deal.
“Of course, at this stage it is a ‘no,’” party spokesperson Karim Ibourki said.
The party’s key decision-makers gathered Monday morning to discuss the issue. Party leader and former Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo said “weeks” were needed to finalize the negotiations, according to public broadcaster RTBF.
Paul Furlan, a Socialist minister in the regional government, said “the ultimatum is not the way to negotiate. The democratic powers given to regions have to be respected.”
On Saturday, European Parliament President Martin Schulz launched a last-ditch effort to save the deal, holding emergency talks with Canadian Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland and Magnette.