Flemish Parliament gives green light to CETA

The Flemish Parliament has voted to approve a bill over the implementation of the CETA free trade agreement between the European Union and Canada. The Flemish Parliament is the first parliament in Belgium to ratify the CETA treaty. The vote saw the parties that make up the Flemish coalition vote for the ratification of the treaty, while the opposition voted against.  

In October 2016 the EU and Canada reached an accord on a free trade agreement after years of negotiations. The agreement only came after then socialist-led Walloon government had put up strong resistance. The Walloon Government had issues with amongst other thing the arbitration system under which issues between companies and governments were to be resolved. After two weeks of intense negotiations between the Canadian, European and Belgian authorities most of the issues the Walloon Government had with the CETA agreement were resolved.  

The treaty finally came partially into force on 21 September 2017. This was more than 8 years after the European Commission had been given a mandate to start negotiations with Canada.

The Flemish Parliament is the first parliament in Belgium to approve the CETA accord. It received backing in the committee stage at the Chamber of Representatives yesterday. Before the Federal Government can sign the treaty it must have been passed by the three regional and two language community parliaments (the Flemish Region and Flemish Language Community has one parliament).