Canada says up to EU to save free trade deal

Sat Oct 22, 2016 1:19pm EDT
 
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By Philip Blenkinsop and Alissa de Carbonnel

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Canada said on Saturday it was up to the European Union to save a free trade deal that could boost both economies but that cannot be signed as planned next week due to opposition from Belgium's French-speaking region.

The Walloon government was awaiting new proposals from the European Commission, according to a source close to Walloon premier Paul Magnette. They would need to be presented to the regional parliament, although no date had been set for this.

The EU is still hoping to find a solution before an EU-Canada summit set for Thursday, when the deal would be signed.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has set a deadline of Monday to decide whether to fly to Brussels, according to a source familiar with the matter. Magnette has previously said the summit should be delayed to allow more time to deliberate.

Canadian trade minister Chrystia Freeland said Canada was still ready to sign the pact and that negotiations on its fine points were over.

"We have done our job. We have finished negotiating a very good agreement. Now the ball is in Europe's court," she said after meeting Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament, and before a flight home.

"I hope that I can return in the next days with my prime minister to sign the treaty as planned."

All 28 EU governments support the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), but Belgium cannot give assent without backing from its five sub-federal administrations. French-speaking Wallonia has steadfastly opposed it.   Continued...

 
Canada's International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, in this October 17, 2016 file photo. REUTERS/Chris Wattie - RTX2P85Z