EU laid bare: Bloc ‘forced into U-turn’ over CETA deal

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Boris Johnson is reportedly drawing up legislation that will override the Brexit withdrawal agreement on Northern Ireland. The move threatens to collapse negotiations towards a Brexit deal which, according to the Prime Minister, must be completed within five weeks. Mr Johnson is expected to issue the EU an ultimatum later this week.

He will tell Brussels that the UK and Europe must secure a post-Brexit trade deal by October 15 or Britain will walk away for good.

The fresh legislation plans for Ireland have exposed the fragility of existing talks with the EU.

Added to this is the imminent publication of a section of the internal market bill that will, it is thought, try to unpick parts of the withdrawal agreement signed in January.

The move, according to several reports, is to prepare Britain for a no deal Brexit.

If successful, the EU could be blindsided by the UK Government as the transition period comes to a close.

Brussels has in the past been the subject of last minute deal reversals.

In 2016 the bloc was on the cusp of signing a landmark trade deal with Canada.

The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) was one of the EU’s most ambitious trade deals, lifting most barriers on goods.

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But on the eve of the trade deal’s going ahead, Wallonia, a small region in Belgium, blocked it.

Its opponents argued it would pave the way for the EU to pursue a more controversial EU-US trade deal, called TTIP.

Talks over the TTIP have faltered with much of the agreements yet to be negotiated.

Many highlighted how the CETA fiasco exposed how fragile the EU was, as it had to gain approval from many smaller regions in order to push through deals for the entire bloc.


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At the time, Wallonia’s regional leader Paul Magnette warned: “We will never decide anything under an ultimatum or under pressure.”

In response to this, his counterpart in Belgium’s Dutch-speaking Flanders region, Geert Bourgeois, said the blockage was “a real shame”.

“We’re the laughing stock of the whole world,” he said.

“It’s bad for Wallonia, for Flanders, for Belgium, for Europe, for the whole world.”

The original date for the deal going through was October 2016.

It wasn’t until February 2017 that Canadian and Belgian politicians reconciled their differences.

Here, the European Parliament approved the landmark trade deal by 408-254 votes.

The hearing was met with crowds of protesters.

CETA saw the removal of 99 percent of non-farm duties between the EU’s market of 500 million people and Canada’s 35 million – trade worth €63.5bn ($67bn; £54bn) in 2015.

It will boost growth and jobs on both sides of the Atlantic, according to its supporters.

Meanwhile, both the EU and UK face further Brexit talk difficulties after Britain’s top legal civil servant quit.

Jonathan Jones left his post earlier today after a significant disagreement with the attorney general over plans to override parts of the Brexit deal on Northern Ireland.

According to The Guardian, Mr Jones clashed with Suella Braverman, the attorney general for England and Wales and advocate general for Northern Ireland, over points of law on several occasions, but most recently over her interpretation of the EU agreement.

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