- EU-Canada Trade Deal in Disarray After Belgium Withholds Consent
Europe’s ability to sign trade deals with the rest of the world was thrown into doubt after Belgium’s government said it had failed to persuade its regional parliaments to sign up to a proposed pact between the European Union and Canada.
Despite weeks of talks, Belgium’s Prime Minister Charles Michel said he hadn’t convinced the Socialist-controlled, French-speaking region of Wallonia to give its assent to the pact — a move that’s necessary for full EU approval. The failure means Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau may cancel his planned visit to Brussels on Thursday when he was scheduled to sign the accord. European Council President Donald Tusk said in a Twitter post that there’s still time to reach a deal in time for the summit.
“The Brussels, Walloon and French Community governments said ‘no’,” Michel said in comments broadcast after consultation with regional government leaders. “Canada and the European Council will have to decide what’s going to happen in the coming days.”
The collapse of the agreement, known as CETA, would be another sign of the headwinds facing free trade as politicians around the world fend off a populist threat that taps into voters’ fears that such deals destroy jobs.
It could also damage the EU’s credibility as a global player at a time when it’s already struggling to deal with crises across its frontiers, from Brexit to Russia and Syria. Trudeau has said failure to ratify the pact, which has been seven years in the making, would raise questions about the EU’s viability.
Damage Already Done
“The events of the past few days raise profound questions about the EU’s ability to fulfill one of its core functions: breaking down the barriers to help European companies do business internationally,” said John Clancy, senior adviser at FTI Consulting in Brussels, and a former EU Commission trade spokesman. “Even if the blockage of the EU-CETA trade deal by the Walloon government is solved in the coming weeks, the damage is already done to EU trade policy and to the EU’s credibility as the world’s biggest trading bloc.”
Wallonia, which accounts for less than 1 percent of the EU’s population, has blocked progress, saying it needs more time to negotiate amid concerns about the impact on employment and consumer standards. The stance is tying the hands of the Belgian federal government, which is in favor of the deal, but needs the endorsement of regional authorities. The other 27 out of 28 EU nations support the bloc’s first commercial accord with a fellow member of the Group of Seven industrialized countries.
Earlier on Monday, European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said the EU and Canada had to “arm ourselves with patience” if there was to be an agreement. EU negotiators rewrote a declaration accompanying the text of the agreement to try to allay Wallonia’s concerns.
“The commission remains ready to continue to make all contributions necessary to help us to reach the end of this process with a positive outcome,” Schinas said.
The EU says the pact would boost its economic output by about 12 billion euros ($13 billion) a year and expand EU-Canada trade by about a quarter. The deal’s failure would complicate separate negotiations with the U.S., Japan and other countries as a wave of populist parties around the world challenges the benefits of free trade.
UK Government Has Approved Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine
The United Kingdom on Wednesday Approved Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine
British government on Wednesday became the first country to approve Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use, according to the UK government.
The vaccine will be rolled out from next week and the first dose could be administered as early as December 7th, stated people familiar with the matter.
Last week, the UK government announced it had ordered 40 million doses of Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 and appointed Nadhim Zahawi, the current junior business minister, as the minister responsible for the deployment of the vaccines.
British government on Wednesday morning said, “The Government has today accepted the recommendation from the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to approve Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for use”
“The vaccine will be made available across the UK from next week.”
Matt Hancock, Health Secretary, revealed that the programme would commence early next week.
“It is very good news,” Hancock said.
Zabarmari Massacre: Buhari to Provide More Resources for the Nigerian Military
President Muhammadu Buhari has promised to provide more resources to the military in the aftermath of the Zabarmari massacre.
On Saturday, Boko Haram killed 43 people with around 70 people still missing in Zabarmari, a village in Borno State.
Reacting to the massacre, Buhari, through his official Twitter handle @MBuhari said “Nothing is more important than ensuring the security of lives and property of Nigerians. Everything is secondary when security is at stake. I will ensure that more resources are made available to the military and other security agencies to prosecute the war against terrorism.
“As we mourn all the lives lost in Zabarmari, the Armed Forces have been given the marching order to take the fight to the insurgents, not on a one-off, but on a continuous basis, until we root out the terrorists.
“We will intensify our cooperation with neighbouring countries on bilateral and multilateral levels, to ensure that there is no hiding place for the terrorists.
“As I noted earlier, the massacre by Boko Haram in Zabarmari is nothing short of senseless, barbaric, gruesome and cowardly. It reinforces our resolve to root out all forms of insurgency and insecurity not just in Borno but everywhere across Nigeria.”
Boko Haram Kills Rice Farmers in Borno State, Northeast Nigeria
Rice farmers were killed on Saturday morning in the Northeast Nigeria by suspected Islamist militants, Boko Haram, according to a Reuters Report.
The report also noted that 30 of the people killed were beheaded while over a dozen others were still missing.
However, resident of the Zambarmari Village where the attacks took place said a total of 70 people were feared dead.
Another resident and Amnesty International were quoted as saying at least 10 women were among those missing.
In another statement by Edward Kallon, the United Nations’ humanitarian coordinator in Nigeria, it was armed men on motorcycles that led the brutal attack on civilians harvesting their fields.
“Armed men on motorcycles led a brutal attack on civilian men and women who were harvesting their fields,” Edward Kallon stated.
“At least 110 civilians were ruthlessly killed and many others were wounded in this attack,” he added, noting that several women are believed to have been kidnapped.
“The incident is the most violent direct attack against innocent civilians this year. I call for the perpetrators of this heinous and senseless act to be brought to justice,” Kallon said.
On Sunday, Governor Babaganan Umara Zulum of Borno State, who was at the burial told journalists that at least 70 farmers were killed on Saturday.
The Governor, therefore, called on the Federal Government to recruit more Civilian Joint Task Force members, Soldiers and civil defence fighters to protect farmers in the region.
He added that people are facing desperate choices.
“In one side, they stay at home they may be killed by hunger and starvation, on the other, they go out to their farmlands and risk getting killed by the insurgents,” he said.
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