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EU-Canada trade pact still on rocky ground


brussels bureau

EU-Canada trade pact still on rocky ground

The chances of EU and Canada finalising a free trade looks ever more remote.

The Belgian region of Wallonia is refusing to back down in its opposition to the pact, as its leader told the media.

“Our request is that there are no private court that allow a multinational to sue countries and weaken social and environmental legislation and the public sector. It’s a concern that is widely shared in Europe,” said Paul Magnette, the leader of the Walloon regional government.

The country’s prime minister Charles Michel says he cannot sign the deal until Magnette is onboard.

Belgium needs the backing of all its regional and community parliaments to do so.

The European Commission still hopes for a breakthrough. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is set to be in Brussels for a signing ceremony on Thursday.

But the Walloon government’s stance is popular with some local people on the streets of Namur.

“For me, it’s perfectly clear. It’s a source of pride. Wallonia is showing there’s another way to the one that’s normally taken, and notably by the European Commission,” said one local man.

“Wallonia has said there must be a balance of powers. All the power cannot be with companies. For me, it’s a source of pride.”

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brussels bureau

Belgian region scuppers EU-Canada free trade deal