EU Aims To Unblock Canada Free-Trade Deal


European Parliament President Martin Schulz says he is optimistic that a free-trade deal between the EU and Canada can be signed soon despite last-minute obstacles, according to BBC News.

Objections by a Belgian region, which opposes the deal, “are for us Europeans to solve”, Martin Schulz said.

He was speaking after meetings in Brussels with Canadian Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland and the head of Belgium’s Wallonia region.

Freeland said: “It’s time for Europe to finish doing its job.”

After seven years of negotiations on the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (Ceta), talks broke down on Friday, October 21.

This followed a rejection of the deal by Wallonia. Exercising its right under the Belgian federal constitution, it called for clarity on safeguards to protect labour, environmental and consumer standards.

The deadlock has called into question the EU’s ability to make trade deals. All 28 EU member states support the agreement, which was to be signed next week.

On Saturday Schultz held meetings with Paul Magnette, the head of the Walloon government, and Freeland.

Afterwards he told reporters that the emergency talks have given him “much reason for optimism about the positive conclusion of Ceta as soon as possible.”

He added: “I am convinced that, by fully addressing the last remaining concerns, we can turn the apparent European division on Ceta (…) into a victory for every participant.”

“The ball is in Europe’s court,” Freeland said. “We hope that it is possible to find a solution.”


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