23:33 GMT29 November 2020
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    The conservative, socialist and liberal democratic factions in the European Parliament, which account for over a half of the seats, have blocked a parliamentary initiative to hold a debate on the EU-Canadian Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), a source from a political group told RIA Novosti Friday.

    BRUSSELS (Sputnik) — Brussels and Ottawa were expected to sign the free trade deal at a joint summit on Thursday, but Belgium’s region of Wallonia refused to give the country its approval to sign the deal. Under the Belgian legislation, every region has a right to reject the accord. The CETA adoption requires unanimous agreement of all 28 EU member states and ratification by the 40 EU national and regional parliaments.

    "[The] initiative to hold a parliamentary debate was blocked by the People's Party [European People's Party], the socialists and the liberals," a representative of the left-wing European United Left–Nordic Green Left group said.

    He recalled that Walloon authorities were not alone in their desire to introduce changes to the CETA. According to him, local authorities across the European Union were somehow dissatisfied with the agreement, in particular, those in Ireland and Slovenia.

    On Friday, Belgian regional parliaments are expected to endorse the text with the compromise, which would come along with the CETA deal.

    CETA, which was negotiated between 2008 and 2014, is expected to become Canada's biggest bilateral initiative after the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), signatories of which are Canada, Mexico, and the United States.

    The agreement aims to establish a free trade zone between Canada and the European Union, scrapping more than 98 percent of the existing tariffs between Ottawa and Brussels. Opponents fear it would undermine standards and regulations on environmental protection, health, safety and workers' rights.


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