Wallonia’s might!

A couple days ago, I pointed out how clunky and ineffective is the European Union’s political system. I did not even make it in time to finish writing that down, that this happened: Wallonia (yes, Wallonia) blocked a trade agreement with Canada, that was signed and approved by everyone else in the union.

To put things into perspective, Wallonia is not a state. Wallonia is the French-speaking region of Belgium where roughly 3 million people live, has its own parliament and is a staunch socialist community. In Belgium, before anything can be approved by the central government, the three parliaments (respectively Brussels, Flanders and Wallonia) must each approve any law or agreement before the central government can do anything about them.

Canada and the EU have been in talks for seven years to sign a trade agreement called CETA (Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement) that will reduce by a staggering 98% trading tariffs and is expected to increase exchanges by 20% between the EU and Canada, helping in the process earnings and especially small businesses. The CETA is not without its detractors, but we can say that, unlike with the TTIP, a vast majority of Europeans (27 out of 28 governments, to be exact) are ready to sign the deal…if it wasn’t for Wallonia. A non-state is currently preventing every other sovereign country in the Union from signing what is largely perceived as an advantageous deal. Here are a few numbers to understand just how paradoxical is the situation:

Canada population: 36.3 million

EU population: 508 million

Wallonia population: 3 million

The will of 3 million people against the will of 544 million people across two continents. Is this a perfect example of “excess of democracy”? Is it fair for a single community in a single state to block the political will of 28 other nations, with implications far beyond the economic ones. How credible is the EU, as a trade partner, when things like this can happen?

No matter the repercussions for 544 million people in Europe and Canada, we can be sure that in the meantime, 3 million people in Wallonia will be celebrating the triumph of democracy…


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