from the it-ain't-over-yet dept
Alongside the better-known trade deals that aren't really trade deals, TPP and TAFTA/TTIP, the smaller one between the European Union and Canada, CETA, is still trapped in a strange kind of political limbo. It was "celebrated" way back in October 2014, and has been officially in the "legal scrubbing" phase where the text is tidied up and translated into all the relevant languages (lots of them for the EU). Cleverly, the EU has used this period to sneak in the "lipstick on a pig" version of corporate sovereignty in an attempt to head off revolts among EU nations worried about growing public resistance to the idea. But just when the European Commission thought it had everything nicely sewn up, this happens:
Romania will not ratify the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada which was concluded in 2014, as an angry reaction to the refusal by Ottawa to lift the visa requirement of its nationals, but also for the lack of EU solidarity for solving the issue.
As EurActiv explains, Romania is upset because Canada is requiring Romanian (and Bulgarian) citizens to obtain a visa before visiting Canada, whereas everyone else in the EU can get in without one. As a result:
A Romanian government official who asked not to be named said that Romania would "veto" the CETA ratification.
If that were the only problem with ratifying CETA, it might be possible to resolve with some judicious arm-twisting by the European Commission. But it's not, because SputnikNews is reporting the following:
Normally the ratification of CETA should conclude by the end of 2016 or 2017. Romania however will not ratify the agreement, EurActiv was told.
The government of the French-speaking Belgian region of Wallonia has refused to ratify the EU-Canada free trade agreement approved by the Belgian cabinet, the region's minister-president said.
Belgium may be a fairly small country, and Wallonia an even smaller part of it, but if the regional government doesn't agree, it would seem that Belgium can't ratify CETA, and without Belgium's OK, the whole CETA agreement might unravel. In truth, nobody really knows -- and that's why these unexpected developments are so worrying for the European Commission. It is uncharted legal territory for EU countries like Romania and Belgium to be unwilling or unable to ratify international trade agreements the Commission has negotiated. One thing is certain: CETA ain't over until it's really, absolutely, definitively over. Until then, grab the popcorn.