Belgium says No to CETA

The Belgian leader Charles Michel has told European council president Donald Tusk that Belgium is unable to approve the CETA free trade deal with Canada. Belgium made its position clear after the Walloon regional government stuck to its guns and refused to back the deal.

PM Michel (photo top) told newsmen that it was now up to Canada, the European Commission and the European Council to decide what will happen next as well as the ramifications for the Canada-EU summit with Justin Trudeau planned for Thursday.

PM Michel earlier met with the leaders of Belgium's various governments to decide our country's position on the CETA free trade accord with Canada. The EU asked Belgium to say by tonight whether or not it accepts the accord.

Charles Michel: "After the talks we established that the Walloon and Brussels governments as well as the Francophone community and COCOF (Francophone community powers in Brussels) had said No. As a result we are not able to sign CETA."

Mr Michel was also keen to point out that the Walloon government had shied away from talks with the Belgian government and the EU in recent hours.

After the talks Flemish PM Geert Bourgeois told newsmen that those gathered had taken note of the 'Non' expressed by the Walloon government:

"There's a Yes from the federal government, a Yes from Flanders and the Germanophone community, but a No from the other entities. The PM will communicate a No to the EU. I think it's dreadfully sad. We've been made to look ridiculous in front of the entire world. It's bad for Wallonia too, for Flanders, Belgium, Europe and Canada, the entire world."

"It's surrealistic. There's a 'Non', but at the same time Wallonia says it's prepared to continue talking."

On leaving the meeting Walloon premier Paul Magnette (pictured) said:

"Every time people try to set an ultimatum, it makes a calm discussion impossible. It makes a democratic debate impossible. There shouldn't be ultimatums and we'll never decide anything under an ultimatum or pressure."

"We are not opposed to a treaty with Canada, but we don't want it to jeopardise social and environmental norms, the protection of public services. We reject private arbitration that allows multinationals to attack states.

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