Agreement in Belgium on CETA, EU-Canada free trade deal to be signed

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Belgian political leaders have reached a consensus over the landmark EU-Canada trade deal, Prime Minister Charles Michel said. “An agreement” has been found, Michel said after the latest round of marathon negotiations aimed at winning over holdouts in Belgium’s French-speaking communities who have held up the deal for the entire European Union, Euractiv informs.

Belgian agreement on #CETA. All parliaments are now able to approve by tomorrow at midnight,” PM Charles Michel tweeted.

Confirmation also came from Paul Magnette, the chief of government of the southern French-speaking Wallonia and the main holdout to the deal. “We have finally found an agreement among the Belgians that will now be submitted to European institutions and our European partners. Wallonia is extremely happy that our demands were heard,” Magnette said.

Belgium had effectively blocked the deal, which must be endorsed by all 28 EU member states, prompting a deadlock between Canada and the EU after seven years of negotiations.

However, the Belgian domestic truce didn’t came in due tome for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to come to Brussels on Thursday, 27 October, as scheduled for a signing ceremony.

Although there was no immediate announcement of a new date for signing the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA), sources revealed it might be signed next week.

The CETA agreement would link the EU’s single market of 500 million people — the world’s biggest — with Canada’s 10th largest global economy in what would be the most ambitious tie-up of its kind so far.

Leaders of Wallonia, a 3.5 million-strong region south of Brussels, had demanded guarantees that CETA will not harm local farming and other interests.

Magnette had especially opposed terms of the deal intended to protect international investors which critics say could allow them to force governments to change laws against the wishes of the people.

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