EU sets Belgium Monday deadline to back CETA, source says

The European Union has given Belgium’s federal government until late on Monday to secure backing for an EU-Canada trade deal from the region of Wallonia or a planned summit to sign the pact will be cancelled, an EU source said on Sunday.

European Council President Donald Tusk, who chairs the collective body of the EU’s 28 national leaders, will speak to Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel by late on Monday, the source said, so that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau can decide whether to fly to Brussels for the signing on Thursday.

If Michel cannot assure Tusk that Belgium will be able to let the EU sign the CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement), then Thursday’s EU-Canada summit will be postponed and no new date will be set, although the source said neither the EU nor Canada is willing to give up on a free trade pact that has been years in the making.

All 27 other EU states are willing to sign, as is Michel’s liberal-led coalition. But the Belgian premier cannot do so without the consent of five regional authorities and Socialist-run Wallonia is resisting, saying the deal is bad for Europe’s farmers and gives too much power to global corporate interests.

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