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EU-Canada trade agreement: CETA can wait

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The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (Ceta) between the EU and Canada is in danger, after the Belgian region of Wallonia Parliament refused to authorise the Belgian government to sign it. The other member states, the EU Commission and Parliament want it ratified, but the agreement, which has been negotiated for nearly seven years, needs the approval of the 28 EU countries to come into force.

Belgium’s federal, regional and community bodies (seven in all) must give their approval. While Flanders have already said “yes”, Brussels’ government and that of the French-speaking community also opposed Ceta. The opponent’s main concern is over safeguards on labour, environmental and consumer standards, and on the rules for trade arbitration. The Agreement’s signing, due for 26 October, has been postponed, while Belgium’s political entities agreed to a common statement on Ceta on that same day, paving the way for the Federal government’s approval. The Belgian Federal Parliament is due to discuss it on 27 November. Before the agreement is signed with Canada the other 27 EU countries must accept the Belgian deal.

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