European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker is expected to scrap plans to fast-track a trade agreement with Canada through the EU. After pressure from Germany and France, Juncker appears to be backtracking.
Juncker will reportedly propose a mixed agreement - one that requires both the approval of the European parliament and national legislatures - at an European Commission meeting on Tuesday.
Last week he was reported saying he "personally couldn't care less" whether lawmakers get to vote on the deal.
A report in the Financial Times noted that Germany and France wanted their national parliaments to be involved, which would inevitably lengthen the process.
The deal was scheduled to be signed at the end of October during a summit in Brussels with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and it was due to be implemented in 2017.
Trade ministers in Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands and UK have reportedly said they will support the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, or CETA.
CETA is similar to the agreement under negotiation between the EU and US and has drawn strong criticism in EU countries.
Canadian and EU leaders concluded CETA in 2014, but implementation was delayed due to last-minute objections in Europe. This was related to an investment protection system to shield companies from government intervention.
With opposition to the EU's impending free trade deal with Canada apparently growing, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said recently that the German parliament should be consulted on the EU's free trade deal with Canada.
"It is a highly political agreement that has been widely discussed," said Merkel, adding that the "Bundestag is allowed to be involved of course... in national decisions".
German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel told the Tagesspiegel daily that Juncker's comment was "incredibly stupid" and "would stoke opposition to other free trade deals," including with the US.
German media has also described Juncker's position as badly timed given the growing skepticism among European voters about the EU.
jbh/kms (AFP, AP)