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Parliament of Wallonia opposes the ratification of CETA

The Parliament of Wallonia

The Parliament of Wallonia passed a resolution today opposing the ratification of the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). The resolution calls on the Walloon Government “not to grant full powers to the Federal Government [of Belgium] for signing the CETA between the European Union and Canada.”

The Walloon government represents Wallonia, a self-governing region in Belgium which accounts for 55 per cent of the territory of that country and one-third of its population. The resolution was backed by the PS group, cDH and Ecolo. The Parti Socialiste (Socialist Party) holds 30 of the 75 seats in the Parliament of Wallonia. The cDH (Centre démocrate humaniste or Humanist Democratic Centre) hold another 13 seats, while Ecolo (Environmentalist) holds 4 seats. Together, that means PS, cDH and Ecolo had majority support for this resolution.

Paul Magnette, the Minister-President of Wallonia, is with the Socialist Party. He has stated, “As long as we do not have all the guarantees (of the future dispute settlement body and other red lines laid down by the Walloon Parliament), it will not be possible for us to ratify such a text, and it is not possible to give full powers to the Minister of Foreign Affairs” to sign CETA.

Some of the concerns expressed in the resolution include:

– that CETA provides in its current form a dispute resolution mechanism between investors and states (ISDS) covering most areas of the agreement to take action against climate change and its impacts;

– the public consultation that the European Commission has organized about ISDS clause in the negotiations of the transatlantic trade and investment partnership (TTIP) and the highly critical reactions of the majority of participants and the European Citizens’ Initiative;

– that for the German Judges Association (Deutscher Richterbund), this new proposal from the Commission for dispute resolution alters the legal architecture of the EU and undermines the powers of national courts under European law;

– CETA will enable companies based in the United States to attack European public decisions, Belgian and Walloon through their Canadian subsidiaries as well as the CETA will enable companies based in Canada, under the TTIP, to sue against European governments, national or regional.

The resolution also calls on the Walloon government to:

– argue in the Council for the CETA be qualified as a mixed agreement, which implies that Member States must agree;

– refuse any provisional implementation of the CETA but wait that all national ratification procedures be conducted in order to hear the voice of European citizens, before a possible entry into force of the Agreement;

– give priority, in the CETA, to a dispute resolution mechanism from state to state based on existing public courts;

– act towards the European institutions to ensure that all trade agreements concluded by the EU with third countries require compliance with the following [fourteen] red lines, which unfortunately are not complied with in CETA.

For a list of other European Union jurisdictions that have expressed concern or opposition to CETA, please click here.