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Saturday 21.10.2017 | Name days: Severīns, Urzula

Wallonia region blocks signing of EU-Canada free trade agreement

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUOn Friday, 14 October, the parliament of Belgium’s Walloon region voted in favour of blocking the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement.

Paul Magnette, President of Wallonia region, told legislators at an extraordinary meeting that he will not provide the federal government with authority to sign CETA on 18 October.

46 members of the parliament voted in favour of declining CETA. Only 16 voted against this proposal.

Belgium’s complex political system consists of the federal parliament, Wallonia and Brussels regions’ parliaments, as well as parliaments that represent the country’s Francophone community, the German-speaking community and the Flemish parliament.

Before the Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau can sign CETA in Brussels at the EU-Canada summit on 27 October, it is first necessary for CETA to be approved by all 28 EU member states.

Trudeau said on Wednesday that he is starting to run out of patience after a two-year long delay. He also warned that failure to sign this agreement would create a very clear signal that Europe is not productive.

Belgium’s federal parliament and the Flemish parliament have already stated their intention to support CETA.

Talks about CETA concluded in 2014. However, there has been opposition to it in Europe and its introduction has been delayed as a result.

Latvia supports the declaration added to the agreement. In this declaration, both sides provide clarifications on points of the agreement that were discussed on the public and political levels the most. The goal of this declaration is to provide a single unified interpretation of the agreement, as BNN was informed by Saeima’s press-service.

«Concerns have been voiced in the public space about the possible reduction of food product quality as a result of CETA. This is why it is necessary to once again emphasize – all imports from Canada will be, without exceptions, compliant with all requirements applied to European products,» – said head of Saeima’s European Affairs Committee Lolita Cigane.

CETA will not reduce the authority of EU regulations and will not add any changes to them; nor will it reduce standards in any of EU’s supervised industries. Standards and rules that apply to food products, their safety, consumer protection, health, environmental, social or labour standards will not be affected, as deputies were told by Foreign Affairs Ministry’s parliamentary secretary Zanda Kalnina-Lukasevica.

CETA is the most modern trade agreement Europe has ever reached an agreement on. Signing this agreement will provide EUR businessmen with access to nearly 99% of tariff lines and public procurements on national, provincial and municipal levels.

Latvian Foreign Affairs Ministry’s parliamentary secretary also emphasized that CETA’s signing has an economic and geographical significance because Canada is a valuable partner for Europe and Latvia.

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