by Robert-Jan Bartunek
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The belgian regions reached a compromise on Thursday for the free trade treaty between Canada and the european Union (CETA) can be approved and finally signed.
belgian Prime minister Charles Michel has explained that the heads of the regions and the linguistic communities in Belgium had developed an addendum to the project of AACC to respond to concerns about the rights of farmers and governments.
Canada said he is “cautiously optimistic” by the voice of its minister of foreign Affairs, Stéphane Dion, who was on a visit to Paris.
The president of the european Council Donald Tusk has made it echo but it has not been so far as to say that the comprehensive economic and trade Agreement (CETA) was a done deal.
The addendum must first be approved by the different legislative bodies belgian regional and then obtain the approval of Canada and other member States of the EU.
Donald Tusk said he would be in contact with the canadian Prime minister Justin Trudeau that”only after all procedures would be finalised for the EU to sign the AACC”.
all of The 28 member States of the EU to support the AACC, but Belgium could not give its consent because the Parliament of Wallonia, the French-speaking region, has refused. Indeed, Belgium needs the green light from all of its components so that it can say yes to the AACC.
The French-speaking Belgians criticize in particular the draft agreement to give too much power to the interests of multinational companies.
Charles Michel has not provided precision Thursday on the content of the addendum. But the minister-president of flanders, Geert Bourgeois, has pointed out that the draft treaty 1.598 pages remained valid.
“It is a clarification. The current treaty does not change”, he said.
The minister-president of Wallonia, the socialist Paul Magnette, has apologized to the other european States and Canada for the inconvenience, but explained that what was achieved was important, “not only for Wallonia, but for the whole of Europe”.
He stressed that the compromise reached by the Belgium would have the consequences set clear rules for the functioning of the global economy, and that individuals would thus be better protected.
(Robert-Jan Bartunek, Nicolas Delame and Danielle Rouquié for the French service, edited by Tangi Salaün)