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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.

Jean-Claude Juncker in feisty exchange with journalist

A feisty exchange between European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and a BBC journalist has signified the tense atmosphere at the EU leaders' summit in Brussels.

Asked about Thursday's dinner with Theresa May and the rest of the EU leaders, an apparently irritated Mr Juncker scoffed before replying: "We had no special event with Theresa May yesterday, she was explaining what her intentions are.

"I will have lunch with her and then we'll see what has to happen."

When pressed by the journalist on what he proposed to discuss with Mrs May, Mr Juncker retorted sternly: "Are you the British prime minister?"

EU leaders have warned that Mrs May faces tough negotiations if she insists on a "hard Brexit".

However, European Council President Donald Tusk has insisted that no formal Brexit talks will be held until Article 50 is invoked.


Theresa May receives frosty welcome at EU summit

Theresa May received an initially warm welcome at her first EU summit in Brussels on Thursday, but it didn't stay that way for long.

The President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, told reporters Mrs May was entering a "nest of doves" rather than "the lion's den".

Mr Tusk's welcome was in stark contrast to French President Francois Hollande's, who said: "If Theresa May wants a hard Brexit, then the negotiations will be hard".

Theresa May in show of unity with EU leaders

Theresa May with other EU leaders in Brussels on Thursday.

Theresa May posed for a photo in a show of unity with other EU leaders at her first EU summit on Thursday, despite having declared she had a "very clear message" for them that Britain will quit the bloc.

It came on a day when sterling fell against the dollar after the president of the European Council said EU leaders would not engage in Brexit negotiations.

Donald Tusk said he expected Mrs May to brief the other 27 leaders later, but ruled out negotiations until the prime minister formally launches the Brexit process, which she has said will happen by the end of March next year.

Tusk: Canada's free trade deal could be last for EU

Donald Tusk Credit: PA

Canada's free trade deal could be the last for the EU, the bloc's President Donald Tusk said.

The CETA deal with Canada is being delayed after one regional parliament in Belgium vetoed it and voiced concerns over some its terms.

Arriving for the summit, which the prime minister is also attending, Tusk said Brexit will not be discussed.

Trade will be a major issue at the two-day EU summit in Brussels, which begins today.

Tusk warned the CETA deal risked being the last such accord for the bloc unless it improves its trade policies.


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