The Brussels parliament will not give its green light to ratifying the present version of the CETA, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Europe and Canada. The parliament will not change its mind as long as several conditions remain unmet.
This is at least the sense of draft resolution adopted on Friday by 39 “Yes” votes (comprising the French and Flemish Socialist parties, Democratic Federalist Independents and the Democratic Humanist Centre) to 24 “No” votes (Conservative-Liberals, Open VLD, Flemish Christian Democrats and the New Flemish Alliance).
There were 18 abstensions (Ecolo-Groen! – French and Flemish Greens, the Workers Party of Belgium, Vlaams Belang [the Far Right] and B. Clerfayt of the French-speaking Democratic Front, and the Democratic Federalist Independent party). The parties making up the federal majority voted against the text.
Walloon parties and those belonging to the Wallonia-Brussels Federation had already adopted resolutions on practically the same terms. The Brussels parliament text, however, presents some slight differences compared to these, owing to the presence of the Democratic Federallist Independents, who forced the introduction of these changes.
Since Thursday, we have been aware, through the intervention of the European Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmström that the CETA would be considered to be a “mixed” treaty. This means that it should ratified by all regional parliaments throughout Belgium.
Amongst the conditions laid down by the Brussels parliament, in particular, a human rights clause has been included. In addition, a generic legally enforceable clause to guarantee compliance with the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions has also been added.
There is clause on using so-called “positive lists” in the sphere of liberalisation of services. It expressly mentions services open to foreign businesses and excludes general interest services and current and future general economic interest services.
There is also possibility of including social and environmental clauses within public procurement and the favouring of appropriate short-cuts.