The European Union has given Brussels a deadline to reach an agreement about the fair trade deal with Canada. The Belgian region of Wallonia has refused to back the deal on the grounds that it hurts European interests.
The European Union issued an ultimatum to the Belgian government on Sunday over the stalled CETA free trade deal with Canada. All 28 EU governments have backed the deal, but Belgium was not able to give its official assent without unanimous support from its five regional administrations, which it has not gotten from French-speaking Wallonia.
The EU has given Belgium until late Monday to overcome the resistance to the agreement or risk putting an end to years of negotiations and the possibility of what some experts say could be a 20-percent boost to trade.
“The Commission has been working 24/7 to find a solution,” said EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström on Twitter. “We now hope that Belgium will bring this matter to a successful close.”
Wallonia has refused to assent to the deal on the grounds that it will hurt European farmers and grants too much power to international corporations. According to Wallonian leader Paul Magnette, his administration was also given almost no time to debate the far-ranging trade deal.
“Democracy takes a little time,” Magnette told French news agency Agence French-Presse. “I wasn’t asking for months, but you can’t carry out a parliamentary process in two days.”
Some EU insiders have accused Magnette and his government of using CETA as leverage to make gains in domestic politics. Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel told state broadcaster RTB that he was meeting with the leaders of the country’s five regions on Monday in hopes to hammer out any problems.