French-speaking Belgians put brakes on CETA

19 October 2016

French-speaking Belgians put brakes on CETA

Belgium has the fate of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the European Union and Canada in its hands. Last week the Walloon Parliament, representing the French-speaking region of the federalised country, voted to reject the controversial treaty, because of fears of unfair competition and of the undermining of democracy. In doing so Wallonia expressed the concerns of millions of Europeans and hundreds of social organisations.

The Belgian national government cannot, under the country’s federal constitution, approve the treaty unless all five regional parliaments give their approval. If the Commission had its way, the treaty would have been signed on Tuesday by the trade ministers of the EU’s member states. The EU has now given Belgium until Friday to come up with a solution. They are determined, whatever the cost, to prevent the completion of the CETA, planned for 27th October during the EU-Canada summit, from having to be postponed.

But if it were up to Walloon Prime Minister Paul Magnette, Canadian PM Justin Trudeau could spend next week at home. Magnette calls CETA a threat to social achievements and to sustainable development. So the EU-Canada summit must be postponed indefinitely. Rushing things undermines the democratic process.

The SP, and in particular Member of Parliament Jasper van Dijk and Euro-MP Anne-Marie Mineur, are in full support of Wallonia’s ‘no’. The two have been in the forefront of the party’s sustained campaign against both CETA and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the United States, talks on which are currently stalled. Drawing attention to the national demonstration against the two treaties, scheduled for Amsterdam on Saturday, Van Dijk said that “The courage of the Walloons has opened the door to honest trade treaties. That’s a chance that political parties must grasp.”

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