Tusk: EU, Canada believe trade summit ‘still possible’

tusk-EUBRUSSELS: EU president Donald Tusk said he and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau believe a summit on a landmark EU-Canada trade accord can go ahead as planned Thursday, even though Belgium has yet to sign off on the deal.

“Together with PM Justin Trudeau, we think Thursday’s summit still possible. We encourage all parties to find a solution. There’s yet time,” Tusk tweeted on Monday.

Tusk gave no further information in his tweet and officials were not immediately available to clarify whether his statement meant that the trade pact would be signed on Thursday in Brussels, as originally planned, or whether it would involve more talks.

Earlier, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said objections by several regional administrations meant he could not endorse the agreement, which requires all 28 European Union member states to approve.

“We are not in a position to sign CETA,” Michel said after brief talks with the country’s regional leaders in Brussels broke up without an accord on the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

Leaders of Wallonia, a 3.5 million strong French-speaking region south of the capital Brussels, have led opposition to CETA, arguing they need more binding reassurances that local interests will not suffer as a result.

Tusk on Sunday had called for answer from Belgium by late Monday so he could then call Trudeau and tell him whether or not to come to Brussels for the signing ceremony.

Wallonia leader Paul Magnette said as he left Monday’s talks that he could not endorse the accord under what he called the pressure of an ultimatum.

“It is evident that in the current circumstances, we cannot give a ‘yes’ today,” he said.