Canada’s Liberal Prime Minister has suggested that if the European Union (EU) cannot even do a trade deal with his country then its existence is pointless.
Justin Trudeau said that any failure by the bloc to conclude the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) would leave the world questioning the future of the EU.
His words came as a single Belgian region voted against the deal, potentially vetoing it for the entire European Union.
The regional parliament of Wallonia voted down CETA, putting the trade deal in peril and creating a new headache for European leaders.
Speaking after a meeting with French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, Mr Trudeau said: “If in a week or two we see that Europe is unable to sign a progressive trade agreement with a country like Canada, well, then with whom will Europe think that it can do business in the years to come?”
The Telegraph reports that he said that any rejection of the deal would send “a very clear message not just to Europeans but to the whole world that Europe is choosing a path that is not productive.”
It would also inevitably lead to the world asking: “What’s the point of the EU?”
All EU member states must individually ratify CETA before it can come into effect, but the vote in Wallonia now puts the whole process in doubt.
Under the Belgian constitution, the country’s constituent regions need to ratify the deal before the central government can proceed.
The French Prime Minister said: “We are doing everything we can to convince our Walloon friends that this agreement is a good thing for Canada and the European Union.”
The crisis over CETA comes as EU leaders struggle to keep the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) deal with the United States alive.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel begged leaders to continue negotiations last month after her Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said the deal was “de facto dead”.
France and Belgium have also expressed scepticism over the future of the deal.