The European Union and Canada signed the landmark Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) yesterday (30 October) after the Belgian region of Wallonia had sabotaged the ratification process. Prior to the weekend, Belgian leaders promised to soothe Wallonia’s concerns and the country’s opposition finally gave its ‘green light’ to the free trade deal that should serve as an example for finalizing the TTIP with the United States.
European Council President, Donald Tusk, invited Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, for the signing ceremony in Brussels and happily tweeted “Mission Accomplished”. While all 28 Member States have been in favor of the deal, the CETA also needed backing of sub-federal authorities. However, on Friday evening (28 October), all stakeholders gave their final ‘yes’ to the deal, paving the way for the signing.
“I am delighted to confirm that the EU is ready to sign the comprehensive economic and trade agreement with Canada,” Prime Minister Robert Fico of Slovakia, which currently holds the EU presidency, commented, adding that the deal “represents a milestone in the EU’s trade policy and our commitment to it”. After the deal was signed, Mr Trudeau said that “Canadians and Europeans share the understanding that in order for real and meaningful economic growth, we need to create more good, well-paying jobs for our citizens. “Progressive trade agreements like the one signed today will do just that.”
Justin Trudeau, Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker called the pact “the most comprehensive, ambitious and progressive trade agreement ever negotiated by either Canada or the European Union.” CETA was concluded in February this year after seven years of negotiations. It removes 99 percent of all tariffs and thus saves up European exporters of industrial and agricultural goods as much as €500 million.