MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The EU countries still have to work out among themselves certain aspects of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Canada, which seemed close to falling through earlier this week due to the resistance from the Belgian region of Wallonia, Walloon Minister-President Paul Magnette said Saturday.
"We have still some little difficulties among Europeans. We won’t hide that so we still have to work and discuss for a certain amount of time," Magnette said, as quoted by The Guardian, following a meeting with Martin Schulz, the European Parliament President.
Early on Saturday, Schulz held a meeting with Canadian Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland and Magnette to salvage the talks, which were supposed to conclude with the ceremonial signing of the agreement by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on October 27.Canada had done its part in the talks and it was now up to the EU countries to make the final decision.
On Friday, Freeland expressed her disappointment with the negotiations, which ground to a halt as the French-speaking Wallonia prevented Belgium from accepting the agreement and thus made it impossible for the whole bloc.
CETA, if approved, would eliminate more than 98 percent of the existing tariffs between the European Union and Canada, but the opponents fear that it would negatively affect standards and regulations on environmental protection, health, safety and workers' rights.