While a european summit was dedicated this Friday to the commercial policy of the EU, the canadian minister of international Trade announced that he had “left the negotiations with the Walloons” who still refuse to ratify the free trade treaty.
The negotiations of the last chance between the Walloon government and the canadian minister of international Trade have failed, the francophones of Belgium refusing to ratify the free trade agreement EU-Canada (CETA), said his cabinet to the AFP. Asked by chrystia Freeland “left the negotiations with the Walloons and returned to Canada,” said his spokesman, stressing that the discussions of last minute, which aimed to save the AACC, the signing of which was initially scheduled in Brussels next Thursday, have “not been successful”. The european Union is not capable now of having an international agreement”, held by the canadian minister.
after an eu summit devoted, Friday, to the commercial policy of the EU, the president of the european Commission Jean-Claude Juncker was however confident to find a way out “in the coming days,” the blocking by the region of the belgian French-speaking Wallonia to the signature of Ceta, the free trade agreement EU-Canada. François Hollande has said his side hope that the trade agreement could be concluded. The discussion on the Aacc should find, in principle, its term Thursday, said François Hollande, by holding this agreement useful, “I hope that we will be able to find the outcome”.
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The French-speaking part of Belgium has in effect reaffirmed on Friday its rejection of the free trade treaty between the european Union and Canada. Paul Magnette, the head of the government of Wallonia, which met on Friday morning, the canadian minister of Trade asked by chrystia Freeland with which he had already taken care of this week, he has persisted in his refusal in front of the regional Parliament in Namur (south Belgium), calling them “insufficient,” the fruit of the negotiations of the last few hours with the EU and Canada. However, it has not totally closed the door: “there is new and significant advances that are made, in particular, on the agricultural dossier. On the other hand, there are still challenges for us, especially on the record of the arbitration”.
The question of courts of arbitration is in fact the most sensitive part of the Aacc: it concerns the possibility given to the multinational corporations investing in a foreign country can bring a complaint against a State adopting a public policy contrary to their interests. Is now provided for the creation of a permanent court composed of 15 judges appointed by the EU and Canada, all of the hearings would be public.
After an initial veto by the walloon government, the european Commission had launched an ultimatum last Tuesday against Belgium, so that the country gives its green light to the treaty negotiated over several years by Brussels and Ottawa. “I’m afraid that the Aacc could be our last free trade agreement”, launched the president of the european Council Donald Tusk upon his arrival to the Council on Thursday, believing that a failure of the Ceta would jeopardize any future trade agreement with third countries. The rejection of the treaty would be “unfortunate” and would send to the world a “very clear message” that the european Union is engaged in “a way not very productive,” said last Thursday, Justin Trudeau, prime minister of Canada. The time has come for Europe to decide what the purpose of the european Union,” he said during a joint press conference with Manuel Valls last weekend.
The discussion continued in the night from Thursday to Friday to try to convince the walloon region. This morning, the belgian prime minister, Charles Michel, was shown to be rather pessimistic about a positive conclusion on Friday of the negotiations: “I am not reassured because I have the feeling that there is a radicalization of the positions of the walloon government”, he let go. “We are close to the moment of truth, in the coming hours we will have the clarity (…) I want to get out of it by the top but I’m not totally reassured.”
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If the Ceta is signed as scheduled next Thursday, the 27th of October, the european Parliament and the of Canada are expected, by the end of the year, approve the Treaty, which should then enter into force provisionally, and partially. But it is not certain that it was signed as expected at that date, considered on Friday by BFMTV Matthias Fekl, French secretary of State. “I hope that Belgium will prove once again that she is a real champion in terms of compromise, and that we come to an agreement paving the way for the Aacc”, said Donald Tusk.