- Title: EU's Tusk warns CETA could be bloc's "last Free Trade Agreement"
- Date: 20th October 2016
- Summary: BRUSSELS, BELGIUM (OCTOBER 20, 2016) (REUTERS) POLICE VAN OUTSIDE EUROPEAN COUNCIL ARMED SOLDIERS OUTSIDE EUROPEAN COUNCIL SIGN FOR SLOVAKIAN PRESIDENCY OF EU
- Embargoed: 4th November 2016 12:59
- Keywords: Tusk CETA trade TTIP free trade agreement EU
- Location: BRUSSELS, BELGIUM
- City: BRUSSELS, BELGIUM
- Country: Belgium
- Topics: European Union,Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA00154T9OAV
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: European Council President Donald Tusk warned on Thursday (October 20) a planned EU-Canada free trade agreement could be the bloc's last after it has been met with widespread resistance and was rejected by a Belgian regional parliament.
Tens of thousands of people have taken part in protests across Europe against the planned free trade deal with Canada as well as an agreement with the United States, which they say would undermine democracy and lower food safety, environmental and labour standards.
The demonstrations were against the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the United States and the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) with Canada, currently being negotiated by the European Union's executive with the respective governments across the Atlantic.
"Truly speaking, the problem goes beyond CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement). If we are not able to convince people that trade agreements are in their interest, if we are not able to convince them that our representatives negotiate the FTA (Free Trade Agreements) to protect people's interests, we will have no chance to build public support for free trade. And, I am afraid that it means that CETA could be our last Free Trade Agreement," Tusk told reporters as he arrived for a summit of EU leaders in Brussels.
Almost all 28 EU governments now back CETA, which would be the bloc's first trade accord with a G7 country, but the Belgian parliament of the region of Wallonia voted on October 14 to reject the agreement.
CETA is scheduled to be signed at an EU-Canada summit attended by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on October 27, and Tusk said he was hopeful EU leaders would be able to come to find an agreement with Belgium, whose federal government supports the agreement, over the two-day summit.
"The negotiations are still going on as we speak. I hope that Belgium will once again prove that it is a true champion in compromise making, and that on Friday we will have an agreement that will pave the way for signing CETA," Tusk said.
Belgium's Prime Minister Charles Michel cannot approve CETA without support from assemblies representing the country's three regions and three linguistic communities.
Among those paying close attention to the EU's trade agreements are British officials whose hopes of a post-Brexit trade deal with the EU will also require unanimous support from the 27 other member states across, any one of which could block a negotiated settlement.
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