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Protesters from Greenpeace with #stopceta banners [Image: BBC].

Protesters from Greenpeace with #stopceta banners [Image: BBC].

This is welcome news.

The CETA deal between Canada and Europe was being negotiated in secret, just like TTIP, and included the same prejudicial ‘Investor-State Dispute Settlement’ mechanism that would have barred nation states from legislating for the good of their people.

Wallonia, in Belgium, seems to be the only part of Europe where democracy still means something, if this result is any yardstick.

We were all laughing at the Belgians a few years ago because they went without a national government for many months – but perhaps they had the right idea.

I also like the idea of an international referendum on these trade deals.

If Jean-Claude Juncker is so sure they are good for everybody, why does he not ask us all what we think?

Plucky Walloons stood firm against the weight of Canada and Europe yesterday, refusing to accept the secretive Ceta free trade pact.

Paul Magnette, president of Belgium’s Wallonia region, said “difficulties remain” following hours of talks in the regional capital Namur with Canadian International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland to find a compromise.

The deal requires the unanimous approval of all 28 EU member states, and for Belgium to give the OK all three federal regions — Flanders, Brussels and Wallonia — need to approve.

Mr Magnette said a key issue was how nations and transnational corporations would settle disputes under the deal.

The investor-state dispute mechanism (ISDS) court system is one of the most controversial aspects of Ceta and its sister trade deal TTIP, between the US and EU, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

ISDS gives transnational corporations the right to sue national governments for supposed loss of profits when they try to exert some control over their economy, for instance through labour laws or health and safety regulations.

EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said he had invited Ms Freeland to join talks with the EU and Belgium to persuade Mr Magnette to sign the deal Wallonia’s parliament has repeatedly rejected.

“We need this trade arrangement with Canada,” he claimed. “It is the best one we ever concluded and if we will be unable to conclude a trade arrangement with Canada, I don’t see how it would be possible to have trade agreements with other parts of this world.”

But the Belgian Workers’ Party set out a challenge in an editorial on its website: “Organise a European referendum and you’ll see that the Walloons are not alone.”

Source: Morning Star :: Walloons burst Ceta trade deal | The Peoples Daily

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