EU promises to scale through Canada trade deal

European Parliament president Martin Schulz .

The European Parliament president Martin Schulz says he is confident that a free trade deal between the EU and Canada can be signed soon despite last minute obstacles.

Objections by a Belgian region, which opposes the deal, ‘‘are for us Europeans to solve,” Martin Schulz said.

His comment comes after meetings in Brussels with Canadian Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland and the head of Belgium’s Wallonia region.

Ms Freeland said ‘‘It’s time for Europe to finish doing its job.”

After seven years of negotiations on the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (Ceta), talks broke down on Friday.

Ceta dispute and EU summit
This followed a rejection of the deal by Wallonia. Exercising its right under the Belgian federal constitution, it called for clarity on safeguards to protect labour, environmental and consumer standards.

The deadlock has called into question the EU’s ability to make trade deals.

All 28 EU member states support the agreement, which was to be signed next week.

Earlier, Mr Schultz held meetings with Paul Magnette, the head of the Walloon government, and Mrs Freeland.

Afterwards he told reporters that the emergency talks have given him ‘‘much reason for optimism about the positive conclusion of Ceta as soon as possible.”

He said ‘‘I am convinced that, by fully addressing the last remaining concerns, we can turn the apparent European division on Ceta into a victory for every participant.”

‘‘The ball is in Europe’s court,” Ms Freeland said. ‘‘We hope that it is possible to find a solution.”

Ceta
Canada and the EU would eliminate 98% of tariffs under Ceta, which was negotiated over five years between 2009 and 2014.

Supporters say this would increase trade between them by 20%.

Critics argue that the deal lowers product standards and protects big business, allowing corporations to sue governments.

Chiamaka.O.