This is not a drill: The EU-Canada trade deal is finally being signed tomorrow

 
Rebecca Smith
Canadian PM Justin Trudeau is a happy man
Canadian PM Justin Trudeau is a happy man (Source: Getty)

It's happening, it's finally happening.

Canada and the European Union will sign a landmark deal tomorrow, after the Belgian government struck a deal with regional representatives from Wallonia on Thursday.

Can you feel the relief in Donald Tusk's tweet? The European Council president called Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau soon after the final Belgian vote, and invited him to Brussels for the signing ceremony - that's scheduled for noon local time, or 10am GMT.

That's after weeks of talks and multiple failures to negotiate a settlement. The EU will formally sign the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (Ceta) with Canada to confirm a deal which has been seven years in the making.

Trudeau replied on Twitter:

The deal was almost derailed entirely by a regional government in Belgium; the Walloon parliament voted down the agreement earlier this month, citing concerns over labour laws and protections for its farmers.

A high-profile signing summit had been arranged for Thursday, but the EU and the Belgian government failed to address the Walloon parliament's concerns, and it was cancelled.

EU rules require unanimity among all 28 member states before trade deals can be signed. For some members, like Belgium which has a federal government, that required regional unanimity too.

Earlier this week, the country was branded the "laughing stock of the whole world" by one of its own top politicans, when the three parties failed to meet the EU-imposed deadline, which was, well, Monday.

Read more: Is the blocking of the EU-Canada trade deal a bad sign for Britain?

Once Ceta is signed by both the EU and Canada, the treaty and its provisions, which abolish 98 per cent of all tariffs between the two sides and also strip back regulatory barriers, can enter provisional force.

It will then need to be ratified according to the procedures of all 28 member states, a process which could see further tension given the rise of anti-globalisation parties across the continent and cause friction at elections in both France and Germany scheduled for next year.

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