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Italians likely to scupper EU-Canada trade deal

July 13, 2018

The Italian government has reiterated its opposition to the CETA free trade deal between the European Union and Canada. The deputy prime minister said parliament would not ratify the agreement formally signed in 2016.

EU, Canadian flag, sign reading CETA
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/K.Ohlenschläger

Italian Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio told a farmers' association gathering in Rome Friday that Italy would not ratify the European Union's free trade agreement with Canada.

"Soon CETA [Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement] will arrive in parliament and a majority will reject it and will not ratify it," Di Maio told his audience.

"If so much as one Italian official continues to defend treaties like CETA, they will be removed," added Di Maio, who leads the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement governing with the right-wing League.

The CETA accord needs to be approved by all 28 EU member countries to take full effect, meaning that Italy's refusal to ratify it would scupper the whole agreement.

Anti-globalization sentiment

The EU and Canada formally signed the CETA accord in October 2016. It entered into force on a provisional basis in September 2017, sweeping away tariffs on a large number of goods and widening access to Canadian beef in Europe and EU cheese and wine in Canada.

Farmers in Italy started massive protests against the deal as early as 2017, demanding that the government scrap the pact. They criticized that CETA only shielded "a small part of our designation- of-origin and protected-geographical-indication produce."

Italy's leading farming union branded CETA as "a bad and dangerous deal." Canadian officials have downplayed the threat, saying they are confident there will be full ratification in the end.

Protests as EU parliament approves CETA

hg/jd (Reuters, AFP)