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What seemed like a doomed deal just a few short few days ago is now going through a certain revival as a tentative deal has been reached between the Belgian government and the regional government of Wallonia. The small region which almost ruined the deal for all the other 27 members of the EU which have opted in favor of CETA, had raised concerns in regards to the dispute court mechanism proposed in the agreement. They vetoed the ratification on the premise that the Agreement was putting corporate interests ahead of those of the citizens.
Through negotiations between the two different levels of government, a light was shun on what is known as the investor-state dispute resolution mechanism. The efforts of Wallonia resulted in more clarity being brought to a little-known aspect of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement stating that each EU member can decide whether or not the provision for the dispute court – whose main objective is to set out formal arrangements on how businesses could possibly sue governments when the decisions taken by elected officials could affect their investments.
After a week of negotiations, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel mentioned that talks had calmed down “outstanding concerns”. Wallonia’s leader, Paul Magnette stated that “Wallonia is extremely happy that our demands were heard.”
As part of the deal reached, Belgium will be approaching the European Court of Justice to clarify the proposed dispute court included in CETA.
Although still optimist about the Agreement’s future, Euro Council President Donald Tusk is much more cautious when comes time to talk about the Agreement’s smooth sailing through its next major hurdles: the ratification by all EU members.
“Only once all the procedures are finalised for the EU to sign CETA will I contact Prime Minister Justin Trudeau,” wrote Tusk on Twitter early on after receiving Belgium’s thumbs up. The news was met with much caution by Canadian official also; Global Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion stated that “If it materialises, it is excellent news,” adding he is still “cautiously optimistic” about it all.