Canada and EU on verge of signing trade deal after emergency talks

  • Video report by ITV News Deputy Political Editor Chris Ship

Canada and the EU are close to signing an historic trade deal after emergency talks on Saturday morning.

EU Parliament President Martin Schulz and Canada's trade minister Chrystia Freeland said they hoped to sign the deal next Thursday.

The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) appeared to be in jeopardy on Friday when Ms Freeland walked out of meetings with southern Belgian politicians and said the planned deal had failed.

But following the meeting between the pair on Saturday morning, they struck a more optimistic tone.

They said Canada was now ready to sign the deal and it was up to the Europeans to solve outstanding issues their end.

All 28 EU governments support CETA, which would set up a free trade zone between the EU and Canada and mark the first time the bloc signed such an agreement with a major economy outside the EU. However, Belgium cannot back it without the support of its five sub-federal administrations - and the regional government of the French-speaking region of Wallonia has refused to give the go-ahead.

Speaking on Saturday, Ms Freeland said: "From Canada's perspective our work is done. We've done our job, we've finished negotiating a very good agreement and Canada is ready to sign this agreement.

"Now the ball is in Europe's court and it's time for Europe to finish doing its job. We very much hope that will happen."

She added that she hoped to return on October 27 with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to sign the deal.

Mr Schulz said it had been a "very fruitful meeting" and that the negotiations between Canada and the EU were finished.

He said there was still work to do on the European side but he was "very optimistic" that any problems could be solved by next week.

Walking out of the talks on Friday, Ms Freeland had said: "It is now evident to me, evident to Canada, that the European Union is incapable of reaching an agreement - even with a country with European values such as Canada. Canada is disappointed and I personally am disappointed, but I think it's impossible."