Signing of EU-Canada trade deal set for Sunday

Brussels, Oct 29 (IANS) Leaders of the European Union (EU) and Canada will meet here over the weekend to sign the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), European Council President Donald Tusk announced.

“Mission accomplished! Just agreed with (Canadian) Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to hold EU-Canada Summit this Sunday,” Tusk said on Twitter on Friday.

Canada’s premier was originally scheduled to travel to Brussels on Thursday to sign the CETA, as the pact is known, but the summit was postponed as the Belgian federal government worked to overcome the objections of one of the country’s regional parliaments, Efe news reported.

The parliament of the Wallonia region voted earlier Friday to drop its opposition to CETA.

Under Belgium’s federal system, the approval of each autonomous region is needed for international accords, while EU regulations require that all 28 member-states agree.

Lawmakers representing the 3.5 million mainly French-speaking territory of Wallonia voted 58-5 to accept CETA with the proviso that the European Court of Justice would examine the Investor-State Dispute Settlement, or ISDS, provision of the document.

A common feature of international trade pacts, ISDS allows private corporations to challenge national governments over legislation deemed to damage their real or expected profits.

While the ISDS mechanism will remain a part of CETA regardless of the finding of the European Court, the Walloon administration received additional guarantees from the Belgian federal government.

“We have a better treaty. It’s not perfect, but it’s a better treaty,” Wallonia’s minister-president, Paul Magnette said.

Belgium’s EU partners agreed to the terms the Brussels government reached with Wallonia.