In Belgium Wallonia says won't meet EU 'ultimatum' on Canada trade pact

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Protesters hold up a placard reading '3,4 million Europeans count on Wallonia - stop CETA' during a demonstration in as a meeting in Namur, on October 18, 2016 play

Protesters hold up a placard reading '3,4 million Europeans count on Wallonia - stop CETA' during a demonstration in as a meeting in Namur, on October 18, 2016

(Belga/AFP)
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The head of Wallonia's parliament said Monday it would not respect an EU ultimatum to back a massive trade deal with Canada blocked by the Belgian region.

"It won't be possible to respect this ultimatum," Andre Antoine told RTL radio in Belgium, referring to a late-Monday deadline set by EU president Donald Tusk for the country to say whether it could support the pact.

Belgium has so far been the only EU member not to sign up to the CETA trade deal, which has been seven years in the making, because French-speaking Wallonia has refused to endorse it.

Antoine said it was important to get CETA right as it could pave the way for future trade pacts with powers such as the US and China. "We must therefore have a solid legal basis," he added.

He also pointed to the massively complex nature of the text, saying he has "300 pages of the treaty, 1,300 pages of appendices."

Anti-globalisation activists fear CETA is a test model to push through an even more controversial EU-US trade deal called TTIP play

Anti-globalisation activists fear CETA is a test model to push through an even more controversial EU-US trade deal called TTIP

(AFP/File)

The pact known as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) would link the EU market of 500 million people with the world's 10th biggest economy.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was to sign the agreement at a summit Thursday in Brussels.

CETA is opposed by anti-globalisation groups who say it is a test model to push through an even more controversial EU-US trade deal called TTIP, talks on which have also stalled.

And Wallonia has some support around Europe.

On Saturday, 8,000 people including young people, farmers, union leaders and entrepreneurs joined a rally in Amsterdam in a show of solidarity, organisers said.

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