European Union Court of Justice (CJEU) Advocate-General Yves Bot will deliver his opinion Tuesday on the compatibility between the EU law and certain aspects of the CETA — free trade agreement between the EU and Canada. The European Court was seized on this matter by Belgium in September 2017.
In autumn 2016, the country’s French entities, Wallonia being in the lead, refused to authorize the Federal Government to sign the CETA on their behalf, claiming that the treaty lacked guarantees on the respect of social, health and environmental norms.
They also pointed out the “ICS” (Investment Court System) arbitration clause between investors and states, fearing that this clause should give primacy to private interests.
The political impass led the PS-CDH government headed by Paul Magnette (PS) to postpone the CETA signing ceremony between Canada and the European Union, causing a major diplomatic crisis, and putting the government of Prime Minister Charles Michel (MR) in a very uncomfortable position.
The crisis was resolved by an intra-Belgian compromise, through, notably, a referral to the EUCJ to verify ICS’s compatibility with EU treaties.
The Advocate-General’s opinion, to be delivered on Tuesday, is not Court-binding, but judges follow his reasoning in the majority of cases.