Belgium signs CETA deal backing EU / Canada trade

Opposition from a province has led to delays in signing

Belgium signs CETA deal backing EU / Canada trade

Minister-President of Wallonia Paul Magnette attends a session in the Walloon Parliament in Namur, Belgium on Friday. | Image: Thierry Monasse AP/Press Association Images

Belgium’s foreign minister has signed the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) deal on behalf of his country.

The treaty had been blocked by Belgium’s regional parliament in Wallonia, effectively meaning it could not be signed by the national government, nor by the EU as a whole.

They argued that the deal would be bad for EU farmers. Wallonia eventually voted in favour on Friday.

Belgium's Minister for Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders said: “This is the best commercial treaty the EU has ever signed with one of its close collaborators, which shares the same values and same system of common rules.”

EU institutions got involved in persuading Wallonia to change its stance.

Once signed, the huge free-trade deal will remove the tariffs from the majority of goods traded between Canada and the 28 EU member states.

Opponents say it places too much power in the hands of multinational companies.CETA's main point of contention is the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanisms included in these agreements. This allows businesses to take legal actions against governments who introduce new laws which threaten future anticipated profits

A second deal, the TTIP, is under negotiation to be signed with the US.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny previously voiced Ireland's support for the deal, telling the Dáil that CETA would not impact on labour rights, or environmental protection.