Canada, EU keep pressure on Walloons to abandon opposition to trade deal

OTTAWA - Canadian and European politicians are continuing to lobby a Belgian region this weekend to abandon its opposition to a coveted free trade deal before a key meeting on Tuesday.

They have warned the leader of Wallonia that failure to approve the agreement would cast a pall over Canada-EU relations and affect the European Union's credibility as a trading partner.

In a letter dated Friday, the heads of the Canada-Europe roundtable also told Paul Magnette that Belgium will be to blame if the agreement fails.

Europe's ability to unanimously approve the deal was dealt a setback Friday when the legislature of Wallonia voted to reject the deal.

Ministers from all 28 EU countries must unanimously approve the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement, or CETA, on Tuesday.

The Belgian government can't move forward without Wallonia's support because the country's constitution grants a potential veto to its three regional governments.

On Friday Canada dispatched its special envoy, Pierre Pettigrew, to meet with Magnette to persuade him to back away from his pledge to withhold his region's support from Belgium.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other Canadian officials have said they're confident the trade agreement will make it through.


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