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Wallonia and Romania refusing to ratify CETA

The governments of Wallonia and Romania are refusing – at least for now – to support the ratification of the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

The Wallonian parliament

RTBF reports (in French), “The Walloon government is not ready to give full powers to the federal government to sign the free trade agreement between Canada and the European Union (CETA) as it has not been provided several guarantees, says Walloon Minister-President Paul Magnette, based on a resolution of the PS group, cDH and Ecolo.”

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 Parti Socialiste (Socialist Party) hold 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 have majority support for this resolution. Paul Magnette, the Minister-President of Wallonia, is with the Socialist Party.

Magnette says, “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.

The article notes, “The PS-CDH-Ecolo resolution requires an opinion from the European Court of Justice on the compatibility of the CETA with the EU Treaties and to reject any provisional implementation of CETA before all national ratification procedures are completed ‘to hear the voice of Europeans’. …The resolution also notes the tags that the Walloon parliament has enacted for the TTIP, the agreement of free trade negotiations between the United States and the European Union: the clause on human rights, diversity of expressions cultural, agricultural exception, sustainability standards, the express mention of services open to foreign companies, excluding services of general interest to ensure that European citizens universal access to public services, social and environmental clause, etc.”

A vote on the resolution is expected on April 27.

The Romanian parliament

Additionally, Euractiv reports, “Romania will not ratify [CETA], as an angry reaction to the refusal by Ottawa to lift the visa requirement of its nationals, but also for the lack of EU solidarity for solving the issue. The Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has published a position regarding Canada maintaining the visa requirement for Romanian citizens, expressing disappointment that Ottawa had not delivered on its promise to solve the issue, contained in the Statement of the 2014 EU-Canada summit. Canada has a visa-free regime with all EU countries except Romania and Bulgaria.”

The Romanian foreign ministry says, “In this situation the Romanian authorities will reassess, at EU level, the approach to the relationship between the EU and Canada so as to secure the goal of having obligatory visas for Romanian citizens eliminated.”

The article notes, “Asked to explain this text, a Romanian government official who asked not to be named said that Romania would ‘veto’ the CETA ratification. Normally the ratification of CETA should conclude by the end of 2016 or 2017. Romania however will not ratify the agreement, EurActiv was told.”

It also notes, “EurActiv contacted the Bulgarian authorities for their position on the issue. It appears that Sofia has not yet decided what position to take.”

Hungary and Slovenia

In May 2015, the Hungarian-language news service BruxInfo reported, “[The Hungarian Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade] István Mikola says there is a political consensus that the Hungarian parliament for the time being won’t ratify [CETA] because it cannot accept the investor-state mechanism included in the agreement.”

In June 2015, a Government of Slovenia media release stated, “Slovenia has substantive, general and scrutiny reservations concerning individual elements proposed by the European Commission as possible methods for reforming the EU’s investment policy and the investment chapter in [TTIP]. …In Slovenia’s view, the [European Commission document that includes a reflection on investment policy and on the establishment of a permanent international investment court] does not significantly upgrade the existing system for protecting investments and raises several questions.”

For a review of other countries – Germany, France, Austria, and Greece – that have previously expressed strong concerns about CETA, in particular its investment protection provisions, please click here.

For more on the Council of Canadians campaign to stop CETA, please click here.