Controversial CETA trade deal blocked

24 October 2016 - 12:30pm
Press release

In an embarrassing defeat for the European Commission, controversial EU-Canada trade deal CETA has been blocked today (Monday), placing the entire EU trade agenda in jeopardy.

Canada and the EU have been desperately trying to force a conclusion to the deal in the face of strong opposition in Belgium, where four out of five regional governments are opposed to the deal, echoing concerns in other member states. However, last minute talks have failed with Belgium declaring that it cannot sign the deal and the chair of the EU's trade committee admitting that: "CETA has failed."

It is now expected that Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau will cancel a trip to Brussels, where he was due to sign CETA on October 27.

War on Want senior trade campaigner Mark Dearn said:

It is clear that with the failure to secure CETA, the EU’s trade agenda is in shreds. However, the blame lies with the European Commission’s high-handed and secretive approach to its trade deals, rather than the wholly valid concerns of Belgium’s regional governments.

CETA is anything but a ‘progressive’ trade deal – in a killer blow to the fight against climate change, CETA has secured the importing of high-polluting tar sands oil from Canada, while it also threatens growth, job losses and declining trade between EU countries.

CETA is the last thing Europe or the rest of the world needs right now.”

In Belgium, only the federal government and Flemish regional government support the pact – Wallonia is joined in its opposition to CETA by the governments of the Brussels-Capital region and the French Community.

Wallonia raised questions about CETA to the European Commission more than a year ago, but never heard back.

The region was then given one week to analyse a ‘declaration’ prepared by the Commission, Canada and EU Member States, which was created after EU trade committee MEPs criticised flaws in the text, highlighting public services, workers’ rights and the ISDS/ICS ‘corporate court’ mechanism. However both sides refuse to reopen the text of CETA.

André Antoine, the speaker of the Walloon parliament, told journalists today that Wallonia wanted “transparency and democracy to be respected” in negotiations. On Sunday, Paul Magnette, Wallonia’s minister-president, said that the EU’s ultimatum was “not compatible with the exercise of democratic rights.”

Over the weekend, the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz MEP – who led controversial manoeuvres to force a TTIP resolution through the European Parliament last year - convened emergency meetings with Canada and the Walloon government in an effort to save CETA.

Schulz told journalists: “We can’t stop at the last mile.” However, as CETA has been classed a “mixed treaty” it must still pass through ratification in the European Parliament and then national parliaments.

Editors notes

For further information and interviews, contact Mark Dearn on +44 7804 289680 or Ross Hemingway on +44 7983 550728

CETA and tar sands oil: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-dearn/trade-deal-predicted-to-s_b_12134140.html

Walloons speak out against anti-democratic approach: http://www.politico.eu/pro/wallonia-rejects-eu-canada-trade-deal-ultimatum/

Belgium can not sign CETA (French): http://www.lesoir.be/1350551/article/actualite/belgique/politique/2016-1...

Martin Schulz - “we can’t stop at the last mile”: http://www.politico.eu/article/martin-schulz-in-last-ditch-effort-to-save-ceta-talks/

Bernd Lange - "CETA has failed": https://twitter.com/berndlange/status/790541075102531584 

Divided MEPs pass controversial TTIP resolution: http://www.waronwant.org/media/divided-meps-pass-controversial-ttip-resolution

Study from Tufts University on the economic impact of CETA on Europe:http://www.ase.tufts.edu/gdae/policy_research/ceta_simulations.html

 

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