October 24, 2016 / 12:29 PM / 3 years ago

Belgian PM says cannot unblock EU-Canada trade deal for now

Belgium's Prime Minister Charles Michel speaks during his state-of-the-union address at the Belgian Parliament in Brussels, October 16, 2016. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Prime Minister Charles Michel said he had told European Council President Donald Tusk on Monday that Belgium could not agree to sign an EU-Canada trade deal because he had failed to secure the agreement of regional authorities.

“I have officially told Tusk that we have no agreement,” Michel told reporters after a meeting with the regional leaders.

The EU had given Belgium until Monday to overcome opposition to the CETA trade deal from its French-speaking south before it would probably have to cancel a Thursday summit with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to sign the pact.

Michel said he was still open to dialogue with the main holdout, the region of Wallonia, and that it was too early to say whether CETA was dead. EU and Canadian leaders have said they are keen to conclude the deal after years of negotiation.

Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; Writing by Julia Fioretti; Editing by Alastair Macdonald

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