OTTAWA – The latest deadline may appear to be looming large, but in fact the talks hashing out the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement have been going on for years. Here is a timeline:
December 2008 – The Canadian government publishes a formal notice in the Canada Gazette seeking input on the possibility of negotiating a trade agreement with the EU.
May 2009 – Canada and the EU announce the start of negotiations.
October 2009 – The first round of negotiations is held in Ottawa.
December 2010 – Canadian and EU trade ministers meet to take stock of progress to date, instructing negotiators to maintain the pace and ambition of negotiations.
October 2011 – After nine formal rounds of negotiations, the two sides say significant progress has been made and talks move into a more intensive and focused phase.
February 2012 – Federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for international trade meet in Ottawa and recognize the trade negotiations with the EU as a priority.
October 2013 — Then-prime minister Stephen Harper and EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso announce agreement in principle on the agreement.
August 2014 – Canada and the EU announce that they have concluded negotiations and are going through a legal review and translation.
September 2014 – Leaders release the complete text of the agreement with much fanfare at a Canada-EU Summit in Ottawa.
February 2016 – Legal review of text released.
Oct. 14, 2016 — The restive Belgian region of Wallonia votes to reject the deal, fearing it would leave farmers and industrial sectors too exposed to cheaper imports from Canada, as well as erode local standards for food, labour and the environment. The vote imperils the unanimous consensus of all 28 European Union countries required for the agreement to go ahead.
Oct. 21, 2016 — International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland makes an emotional show of walking out on talks in Brussels aimed at assuaging Belgium’s concerns, calling an agreement “impossible.” She later describes the spectacle as a “tough,” “strong” tactic aimed at forcing a resolution.
Oct. 27, 2016 — The scheduled date for a signing ceremony in Brussels which was to be attended by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. throughout the day Wednesday, the federal government refused to say whether or not the prime minister’s trip would be going ahead.