EU-Canada corporate pact in turmoil as Belgian region rebels
WALLONIA has left years of planning for an EU-Canada trade deal in tatters after its government refused to support the corporate ‘Ceta’ pact.
Ceta (the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) was constructed through seven years of economic talks between Canadian and EU officials, but faced a backlash over its potential threats to economic, environmental, and social wellbeing.
A trade deal requires the consent of all 28 EU member states – including the support of Wallonia and six other sub-state bodies to give the go-ahead for Belgian support.
However, just days ahead of a joint ceremony in support of the treaty Wallonia’s Minister-President Paul Magnette has refused to support its passage.
The prospect of Ceta’s failure follows hot on the heels of a breakdown in discussions on the EU-US deal Ttip (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership), which faced similar criticisms.
Global Justice Now, a campaign network which supports a reform of trade policy to put people before profit, welcomed the opposition to Ceta.
Guy Taylor the trade campaigner for the group said: “Ceta has failed because these secretive negotiations were exposed to be much more about enhancing corporate power rather than about lowering trade barriers, and the toxic trade deal was being railroaded through by an increasingly remote and inflexible EU Commission.
“The entire trade agenda of the European Union now lies in tatters and needs reworking from scratch. This is an ideal opportunity to create a trade regime that prioritises people, while safe-guarding their health, their rights and the environment.
"Three and a half million people told the EU last year that these corporate power grabs were unacceptable. Brussels carried on regardless and now the architects of Ceta are tasting the bitter fruits of failure. This should be a lesson to Jean-Claude Juncker and Cecilia Malmstrom and other EU politicians that their mandate is to represent people’s need not corporate greed.”
Magnette’s opposition to Ceta has been linked to growing opposition in Wallonia from the PTB party to the left of his social democratic government.
European Council President Donald Tusk has said he hopes the deal could still on signed on Thursday 27 October – but so far there has been no progress ahead of that deadline.
Picture courtesy of Global Justice Now
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