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Belgium set Monday deadline over EU-Canada trade deal

Walloon Minister President Paul Magnette (left) and European Parliament President Martin Schulz. Credit: PA

Belgium has been given until Monday evening to back an EU trade deal with Canada.

The Canadians have said they are "ready to sign" the historic deal and all 28 EU government back the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement.

However, it has been held up because the regional government of the French-speaking region of Wallonia in Belgium has refused to give the go-ahead, saying the deal is bad for Europe's farmers and gives too much power to global corporate interests.

Reuters reported that EU trade officials are offering tweaks to a political declaration appended to the treaty in a bid to get them to sign.

European Council President Donald Tusk is reportedly due to speak to Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel by late on Monday to confirm if the deal is on.

Belgium's Wallonia region: No breakthrough in CETA talks

Minister-President of Wallonia Paul Magnette attends a CETA meeting in Belgium. Credit: Reuters

The premier of Belgium's Wallonia region Paul Magnette has told his region's parliament that no breakthrough has been made in talks over the planned EU-Canada free trade deal.

Although all 28 EU governments support the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), Belgium's French-speaking Wallonia region opposes it, meaning the country as a whole cannot give assent.

Wallonia maintains that CETA poses a threat to farmers and to welfare standards.

Mr Magnette said talks on Friday had yielded some developments, but pointed out that contention still remains over an independent court system to resolve disputes.

Critics say the court system can be exploited by big business to unduly influence public policy.

CETA is expected to take centre stage is the EU leaders' summit, which is currently underway in Brussels.

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