European Parliament head tries to save EU-Canada trade talks

BBC | Published: 11:10, Oct 22,2016

 demonstration against CETA

A demonstration against CETA. -- Reuters file photo

The European Parliament president has called for emergency meetings to try to save a free trade deal with Canada.

Martin Schulz asked for separate talks with Canadian Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland and Paul Magnette, the head of Wallonia in Belgium, which has blocked a deal on the CETA agreement.

Magnette is seeking clarity on safeguards to protect labour, environmental and consumer standards.

Freeland abandoned talks on Friday, after seven years of negotiations.

She said it was clear that the EU could not reach agreement even with Canada, a country that shared European values.

All 28 EU member states support the CETA free trade agreement, but Belgium's constitution stipulates that each of its regional governments must back the deal before the federal government can sign it.

The French-speaking region of Wallonia has remained steadfast in its opposition to CETA.

‘We can't stop at last mile,’ Schulz said on Twitter, saying he would meet Freeland at 0730 (0530 GMT) on Saturday and Magnette an hour and half later.

A spokesman for the Canadian trade minister was unable to confirm that the meeting would place.

The wide-ranging deal was to be signed next week.

Belgium-Canada CETA trade dispute bedevils EU summit

Speaking outside the seat of the Walloon government on Friday afternoon, Freeland told reporters: ‘It seems evident for me and for Canada that the European Union is not now capable of having an international accord even with a country that has values as European as Canada.’

She added: ‘Canada is disappointed, but I think it is impossible.’

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