Belgian leader Charles Michel hosted his EU partners in Brussels last week [Image: AP].

Belgian leader Charles Michel hosted his EU partners in Brussels last week [Image: AP].

See the headline? That’s a message that seems to have bypassed the copy-writer at the BBC News website.

Why else would they be publishing unverifiable “facts” like the claim that, with 98 per cent of tariffs removed, the EU will make 500 million Euros per year, thanks to CETA? Did Mexico make a huge profit when it signed the NAFTA trade deal with the USA? Emphatically, it did not.

Other facts published by the BBC seem to suggest that Wallonia should suck it up and sign for everybody else’s good. After all, there are just 3.6 million people in the Belgian region, whereas 36.3 million Canadians and 508 million EU citizens are waiting for this deal, so they should sign in the interests of the many – right?

Wrong. If it isn’t in the interests of Wallonia, then it isn’t in the interests of the EU. Any deal has to benefit every nation state (including, in Belgium, the regions), leaving out none of them. Otherwise, it’s all off. And that’s just as well, considering what happened to Mexico.

And consider this: When Wallonia refused to sign at the weekend, did CETA’s architects offer to change any part of it – to reflect concerns over the “Investor-State Dispute Settlement” process that would allow corporations to sue nation states, perhaps? No.

On Sunday, the European Commission offered a new “clarification” to Wallonia, describing the mechanism for settling disputes.

The message was: “You clearly haven’t understood, so here it is in large print. We’re changing nothing. Sign.”

To which Wallonia, not unreasonably, just said: “No.”

Quite right, too.

Belgium cannot sign a key EU trade deal with Canada, Prime Minister Charles Michel says, because of objections from one of its regions, Wallonia.

His statement appeared to dash hopes the Ceta deal could be signed by EU leaders and Canada on Thursday.

It is the EU’s most ambitious free trade deal to date but Belgium needs the regions’ approval to sign it.

Mr Michel said he had told European Council President Donald Tusk that Belgium could not sign Ceta.

The European Commission had set Belgium a Monday deadline to make its decision on the deal agreed with Canada in 2014, after five years of negotiations.

Wallonia, a staunchly socialist region of 3.6m people, wants stronger safeguards on labour, environmental and consumer standards.

Its fears echo those of anti-globalisation activists, who say Ceta and deals like it give too much power to multinationals – power even to intimidate governments.

Source: Belgium Walloons block key EU Ceta trade deal with Canada – BBC News

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