Free trade fury
The free trade deal between the EU and Canada is set to be approved a week on Tuesday by EU Trade Ministers. But not everybody is in agreement.
On Thursday, Germany’s Constitutional Court finally rejected a petition from activists saying that the CETA agreement would undermine their democratic rights.
The ruling effectively gives the go-ahead to the German government to approve the deal.
However, concerns about the mammoth trade agreement are growing.
French Greens MEP Jose Bove was detained by Canadian border officials upon his arrival in Montreal on Tuesday. He voiced his frustration with a tweet in french: “Stuck for 3 hours at Montreal airport. Opponents of #CETA are not welcome in this country.”
The agreement is scheduled to be formally signed between EU leaders and the Canadian Prime Minister in Brussels at a summit on October 27.
All of the EU’s national parliaments as well as the Canadian parliament will then have to approve it.
However, in Belgium, the parliament in the French-speaking region of Wallonia has blocked the agreement: without its go-ahead, the Belgian government cannot sign the agreement. It also has to be mandated by all 28 members of the EU in order to enter into force.
Sign of the times
Activists in Germany collected 190,000 signatures to get the CETA case to court. However, they were not alone in their quest.
EU staff managed to collect over 150,000 signatures for a petition criticising the former President of the EU Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso.
The former EU executive took up a job with the American investment bank Goldman Sachs.
His decision sparked a big debate about ethics in government and business.
The reaction was strong.
#EU staff garner150,000 signatures againstformer President#Barroso's #Goldman Sachs job
EUemployees</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Ethics4EU?src=hash">#Ethics4EU</a> <a href="https://t.co/SfM0OsZffM">https://t.co/SfM0OsZffM</a> <a href="https://t.co/od4UudiWy7">pic.twitter.com/od4UudiWy7</a></p>— EuranetPlus (EuranetPlus) October 12, 2016
The Greek saga has been back on the agenda once again.
Eurozone finance ministers have given the green light for Greece to get another 1,1 billion euros in bailout money now while holding back 1,7 billion euros to be paid out at a later stage.
This paves the way for a second review under the terms of which Greece will have to meet a number of crucial conditions including unpopular labour reform, energy market liberalisation and bank governance reform.
In return, Greece is expecting the opening of discussions on debt relief.
Speaking exclusively to Euronews, the veteran British film director Ken Loach said the EU must bear some responsibility for the situation.
The jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi won last year’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, awarded by the European Parliament.
Badawi has been in prison since 2012, serving a 10-year sentence for “insulting Islam”.
On Tuesday, MEPs approved their final shortlist of human rights defenders for this year’s award.
Up and Down
Last week, the Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating a peace agreement with the Farc rebel group.
He is our Up for the week. Not for the prize but because he said he will donate his prize money to help the victims of the 52-year conflict in his country. He also extended the ceasefire with the Marxist FARC rebels through the end of the year.
This was a bad week for the German police. Controversy raged about the way the police handled a terrorist alert and arrest in Leipzig. They failed to capture the suspect who was turned in by two members of the local Syrian community. Ultimately, the suspect committed suicide in jail.
This week’s agenda:
- Monday – EU foreign ministers meet in Luxembourg for discussions expected to focus on sanctions against Russia
- Tuesday – EU trade ministers meet about CETA
- Thursday/Friday EU leaders meet in Brussels. This will be the first EU summit Theresa May will attend as UK prime minister.