EU Council says Canada trade deal still possible

A planned EU-Canada summit to sign a free trade deal is still possible on Thursday, European Council President Donald Tusk said on Wednesday as Belgian politicians entered a second day of talks on the future of the pact.

Prime Minister Charles Michel hosted talks from early on Tuesday of regional authorities, including of Wallonia and Brussels that have rejected an accord backed by all 27 other EU governments.

Without assent from its regions and linguistic communities, Belgium cannot sign the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) at a planned EU-Canada summit on Thursday to be attended by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

I still hope that Belgium will prove that it is a consensus-building champion and that we will be able to finalize this agreement soon,” Tusk told a session of the European Parliament.

Tusk said that there would be consequences for Europe’s global position if it failed to strike a free trade deal with Canada, “the most European country outside Europe and a close friend and ally“.

But it is too early to go there yet. As we speak, the summit tomorrow is still possible”.

Belgium’s federal government failed in six hours of negotiations to overcome the regional veto.

Reuters/Hauwa M.