Justin Trudeau attempts to salvage European free trade

Trudeau and Martin Schulz, the president of the European Parliament, have spoken in recent days

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has spoken to Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament, in an attempt to salvage Canada’s free trade deal with Europe, sources say.

A government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Trudeau and Schulz have spoken in recent days and that Thursday’s Canada-EU summit has not been cancelled.

Reuters reported today that Schulz has told a German radio station that he did not expect the deal to be signed this week.

Thursday has been set for the signing of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, or CETA, by Trudeau and EU leaders.

But Trudeau has yet to commit to attending the summit in Brussels, which was scheduled months ago.

The EU has yet to persuade the tiny Belgian region of Wallonia to drop its opposition to the pact, which is preventing Belgium from joining its 27 EU partners in approving the deal.

Canada appears to be discounting reports that the signing of its free trade agreement with the European Union might be delayed.

A spokesman for International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland says Canada is ready to sign the pact on Thursday.

“As the minister has said, if there is an agreement to sign, Canada is ready,” said spokesman Alex Lawrence. “The ball is in Europe’s court right now.”

On Monday, Freeland repeatedly refused to answer questions about whether Canada was prepared to sign the agreement after Thursday.

Freeland and Schulz met Saturday in Brussels before the minister left Europe, declaring that Canada was done working on the deal and that it was waiting on Europe to finish its part of the job.

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.