Belgium 'cannot back EU-Canada trade deal at this stage'

There is now major doubt over the pact's future and over whether a special summit will go ahead on Thursday with Canadian President Justin Trudeau. "We encourage all parties to find a solution". Michel has informed European Council President Donald Tusk that he will not be able to sign the deal, a representative for Tusk confirmed.

The European Commission, which has been negotiating CETA with the Canadian government on behalf of EU member states, said earlier Tuesday that efforts would continue beyond Monday, even if the decision is taken to postpone the summit.

Leaders of Wallonia, a 3.5 million strong French-speaking region south of the capital Brussels, are in particular asking for more time to negotiate terms.

"If Europe can not sign this trade agreement, and it's also a trade agreement with Canada, a country that very much shares, has shared values with Europe, then I think that certainly does call into question European trade policy more generally".

"It won´t be possible to respect this ultimatum", Wallonia parliament head Andre Antoine told RTL radio, referring to a late-Monday deadline set by European Union president Donald Tusk for the country to say whether it could support the pact. "We can not give a yes", said Paul Magnette.

PARIS Wallonia premier Paul Magnette said the Belgian region was not opposed to a planned EU-Canada free trade deal in itself but that an arbitration scheme needed to be dropped and public services protected.

The development deepened the turmoil in a European Union shaken by a series of crises, particularly Britain's shock June Brexit vote, and highlighted growing popular distrust of worldwide trade deals and the leaders who negotiate them.

Magnette insisted he would agree to nothing under the threat of an ultimatum but remained open to further talks. "We must therefore have a solid legal basis", he added.

Many see the issue going beyond just a trade deal with Canada, the EU's 12th-largest trading partner.

The EU-Canada trade deal, known as CETA, has been under negotiation for seven years. Belgium, the only outstanding country, needs the support of its five regional parliaments, one of which, Wallonia, is the lone holdout.

Following the breakdown of talks with Belgium on Friday, the EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said she sincerely believes that this is not the end of the process. European Union leaders have voiced unanimous support, saying the deal would provide a boost to Europe's flagging economy.

The problem is that an arbitrator's work is done in secret, and is paid for by individual corporations, which makes it impossible to know if that same person has a conflict of interest when they hear a case later as a judge, said Van Harten.

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