Udo Bullmann: It is ‘correct’ to give regions say on CETA deal

Udo Bullmann [European Parliament]

SPD MEP Udo Bullmann does not think it is a mistake to make agreements like the teetering CETA deal dependent on the approval of regions like Wallonia. EURACTIV’s partner Der Tagesspiegel reports.

Udo Bullmann is a German lawmaker (S&D) and a member of the delegation for relations with the Mercosur trading bloc.

Bullmann spoke to Der Tagesspiegel’s Albrecht Meier.

The dispute over CETA could sink the whole deal. Is it right that a small region like Wallonia can block a transatlantic deal like this?

Wallonia has raised questions that are also of concern to others. I want us to get a good deal. This includes solutions to issues that the Walloon parliament has raised.

Was it a mistake to make the CETA agreement a so-called mixed agreement, in which national and regional parliaments therefore have a say?

No, it was correct of them to do that, because CETA encompasses many issues that affect national interests, like investor protection. Given the wide-ranging nature of the debate in Germany, it was reasonable that both the Bundestag and the Bundesrat be involved.

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Belgium is not able to sign off on a landmark EU-Canada free trade deal after Wallonia and other regional administrations refused to give the federal government the go-ahead, PrimeMinister Charles Michel said today (24 October).

Are the benefits of free trade going to benefit or harm people at the end of the day?

That depends on which rules it will operate under. I am strongly in favour of foreign trade legislation being used as an instrument for more humanity, worker protection and sustainability. That is why we need strong rules for free trade.

Tusk and Trudeau still hope to sign CETA trade deal after Belgian 'Non'

Belgium declared yesterday (24 October) that it could not formally back a free trade deal between the European Union and Canada because of an internal dispute, but the two sides still appeared to be holding out hopes of a summit to sign off on the deal.

As an MEP, you are soon going to have to vote on CETA. Is the European Parliament going to approve or reject the agreement?

The SPD members of the Parliament will only say yes if their high criteria are met, as we said at the SPD conference last month in Wolfsburg.

On what main areas have you focused when advising the Parliament?

We have said that we do not want investor protection to in any way affect our legislation. We also want to ensure that municipal services are protected: there cannot be any restrictions on the member states providing adequate services to their citizens. It is also necessary that labour protection is respected.

CETA collapse scuppers Bulgaria and Romania visa deal

Bulgaria and Romania agreed today (21 October) that their deal to obtain visa-free travel would be part of the CETA agreement, answering the concerns of the Belgian region of Wallonia. A couple of hours later they realised that they made the wrong decision.

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