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10/28/16

TTIP deal EU-US: Magnette after CETA: “It is clear that TTIP has died”

Having reached an intra-Belgian agreement on CETA on Thursday, the relay goes from the so-called “conciliation committee” – doing the brokering – to Parliament, doing the voting. By Friday midnight, the process should be completed.

“An agreement was reached in the conciliation committee, which was charged with finding a common position at the federal and federated entities on CETA, announced the Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel on Thursday.

“The text of the agreement was sent directly to the Committee of Permanent Representatives to the EU,” Michel added.

Indeed, the text was taken to the EU Council. Ambassadors had an overview at the draft at an extraordinary COREPER II meeting at 16:30 on Thursday afternoon.

From that point onwards, the ball is in the court of the European Council; once all member states give the green light, the Council needs to formally adopt the three agreements: a) the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA); b) the interpretive declaration that failed to be validated at last week’s meeting; and c) the Belgian declaration that was finalized on Thursday morning.

The major stumbling block has been removed. According to an EU official, Belgium’s has secured it will be able to sideline the envisioned arbitration mechanism and resort to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

“It was very important, not only for Wallonia, and if we took some time, and I’m sorry for our partners Europeans and Canadians – it’s because what we could get here is important for the Walloons and for all Europeans,” he underscored.

The members of the Conciliation Committee will ensure there is a vote in each regional parliament by midnight Friday, authorizing the Belgian government to proceed.

The Brussels Regional Parliament to vote first; the Federal Parliament of Wallonia-Brussels will follow at 18:30. The Minister-President of the Federal government Rudy Demotte will present the compromise reached to the MPs; a vote will follow in the evening.

The Parliament of Wallonia convened at 11.00. Walloon Minister-President Paul Magnette’s Parliament of Wallonia is presenting the amendments introduced to the agreement and will address questions in in a Plenary session. A vote will follow later this afternoon. The Socialist leader stressed that “Wallonia is extremely pleased that our requests have been heard.”

“We have always fought for treaties that enhance social and environmental standards and protect public services, so that there is no private-offs but there are entirely public courts only,” Magnette said. He underscored that that decision substantially imporved the deal both for the Walloons but also for all EU citizens.

“It was very important, not only for Wallonia, and if we took some time, and I’m sorry for our partners Europeans and Canadians – it’s because what we could get here is important for the Walloons and for all Europeans,” he underscored.

During a late night appearance on Belgian TV on Thursday, Magnette argued that the concessions Walloons secured in CETA will set a precedent for all future international treaties and, therefore, “it is clear that the TTIP is dead.”

“We put two latches: the first says we never ratify the agreement if these conditions are not met; the second lock allows the Walloon Parliament to annually review the implementation of the agreement against socio economic and environmental criteria. If the evaluation is negative, the Parliament may request the suspension of the treaty.”

On agriculture, Magnette noted that “it was especially important for us to preserve our agriculture, by putting safeguards to prevent unfair competition.”

Wallonia did not get everything it wanted, but progress was made. “I wanted to have a good agreement. What we have achieved today will be important tomorrow,” concludes Magnette.

Read more: Magnette after CETA: “It is clear that TTIP has died

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