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Press Release Originally Posted on War on Want

Controversial EU-Canada deal CETA is on the brink of collapse with Canada’s trade minister stating that talks to save the deal have failed and that she is “very, very sad”.

The European Commission has been desperately trying to conclude CETA this week in the face of stiff opposition across Europe, including within the governments of Belgium, Germany, Poland and others. The Belgian regional government of Walloon has been key to blocking the deal – its Minister-President Paul Magnette has received a hero’s reception across social media.

The admission that talks between Canada and Walloon have failed is a humiliating defeat for the European Commission. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was due to visit Europe next week to sign the deal – it is now unclear whether this will go ahead.

War on Want senior trade campaigner Mark Dearn said: “Canada’s trade minister may be ‘very, very sad’, but there are millions of people in Europe who will be very, very happy. Since talks first started on CETA back in 2009, the deal has sat alongside TTIP as an example of how not to do a trade deal – absolute secrecy, zero input from public interest groups and sheer contempt for the very valid concerns of people across Europe.

“Today we have seen the European Commission’s chickens come home to roost: it’s frankly ridiculous to first admit that the CETA text is flawed, then scrabble to piece together a flimsy PR ‘declaration’ to supposedly solve those problems, give governments next to no time to properly analyse it, and all the while call anyone questioning the deal and this process ‘anti-trade’.

“If the Commission fails at yet another trade deal, the fault lies wholly with its anti-democratic approach.”

A study published last month revealed the threat of CETA to jobs, growth and intra-EU trade. This was followed by an admission from trade committee MEPs that the deal’s text was flawed and failed to adequately address concerns around workers’ rights, public services and the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) ‘corporate court’ system.

After MEPs criticised flaws in the CETA text, Canada and the European Commission pieced together a ‘declaration’ in a desperate attempt to save the deal, which both sides refuse to re-open for negotiation. Then, last week, a group of MEPs attempted to rush through a vote on CETA before Christmas, foregoing any opportunity for European Parliament committees to scrutinise the wide-ranging deal.

After learning that it had only seven days to scrutinise the CETA ‘declaration’, Minister-President of Wallonia (Belgium), Paul-Magnette, labelled the Commission’s timeline “an unacceptable violation of our democratic principles”.

If CETA passes through its full ratification process, the UK can be sued by US and Canadian corporations under the deal’s ‘corporate court’ investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism for up to 20 years after Brexit.

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