The CETA trade deal has been halted after the Belgian region of Wallonia refused to accept the deal, preventing Belgium as a nation from granting its own approval.
CETA stands for ‘Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement’, and would allow significantly more open trade access between Canada and Europe. Some aspects of the agreement would mean that livestock products could be purchased ‘duty-free’, as it were.
The EU has given Belgium a deadline of tonight, Monday October 24th, to approve the deal. If the deal is not given the go-ahead, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will not travel to Brussels later on this week to sign the agreement.
The leader of Wallonia, Paul Magnette, has described the ‘undemocratic’ behaviour of the EU in forcing a decision of approval. On Twitter, Mr. Magnette even went so far as to call out the hypocrisy of EU leaders, who he believes did not put as much intense pressure on those attempting to block tax fraud [roughly translated from a French Tweet on his Twitter profile]:
The deal has been several years in the making, and although many leaders are becoming increasingly desperate to have it passed, politicians in Ireland in particular are opposing the deal.
Dommage que les pressions de l'UE sur ceux qui bloquent la lutte contre la fraude fiscale ne soient pas aussi intenses— Paul Magnette (@PaulMagnette) 23 October 2016
Luke Ming Flanagan has loudly called the deal a ‘Trojan Horse for TTIP’ in his campaign against CETA. TTIP is a deal involving the US and EU, and many fear it would suffocate Ireland’s beef sector. Matt Carthy MEP Sinn Féin has called on leaders to stop the trade deal from happening at all costs. On his own Twitter profile, Matt described Wallonia’s potential refusal as ‘a huge service for citizens and democracy across [the] EU’:
What and where is Wallonia?
Wallonia has a population of about 3.5 million people, and is a French-speaking region in Belgium. There are many regional authorities within the nation of Belgium, and each must approve of CETA if the country’s official stance is to be unanimous. Wallonia covers more than half of the land in Belgium and holds about a third of its population.