Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel told European Council President Donald Tusk on Monday that Belgium could not agree to sign an EU-Canada trade deal because he had failed to secure the agreement of regional authorities.
“I have officially told Tusk that we have no agreement,” Michel told reporters after a meeting with the regional leaders.
Wallonia, a region of 3.6 million people, wants stronger safeguards on labour, environmental and consumer standards.
On Monday, it emerged that two other Socialist-led, French-speaking parliaments also opposed the CETA agreement.
“The federal government, the German community and Flanders said ‘yes.’ Wallonia, the Brussels city government and the French community said ‘no’,” Michel said, as quoted by bbc.com.
The EU had givena deadline to Belgium until Monday to overcome opposition to the CETA trade deal from its French-speaking south before it would probably have to cancel a Thursday summit with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to sign the pact.
Michel said he was still open to dialogue with the main holdout, the region of Wallonia, and that it was too early to say whether CETA was dead. EU and Canadian leaders have said they are keen to conclude the deal after years of negotiation.