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#CETA: Belgian region of Wallonia holds EU-Canada trade-deal ransom



161021ceta2Last week (14 October) the parliament of Wallonia led by Paul Magnette decided to reject the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada. Most thought this small wrinkle on the road to an agreement that has been exhaustively negotiated and explained would be resolved at this week’s European Summit, but alas no.

Wallonia is the Ohio of Europe - it had a glorious industrial and unionized past, but since its heavy industry went into decline it has gone into a deep economic slump. Like the Trump supporters of Ohio, opposition to international trade deals and a protectionist approach work well with this audience. Assurances by the Commission that trade deals can be ‘win-win’ do not convince this small region of 3.5 million.

What is startling is that the region of Wallonia has been able to hold the rest of Europe and indeed the rest of Belgium hostage. Belgium’s peculiar constitutional arrangements give the regions power to be consulted on international matters. European leaders are confident that an agreement can be reached and many have noted Begium’s ability to compromise and reach agreement.

Paul Magnette, formerly-unknown regional president, is enjoying his day in the sun and support from those who are also opposed to CETA, including the European Parliament’s Green MEPs. He said: "Once a democratic debate is open it's hard to stop it I hope many Parliaments will analyse CETA as seriously as ours did."

In the meantime, Romanian and Bulgarian concerns over visa liberalization have been assuaged with assurances that an agreement on this matter could be agreed by the end of 2018.

The Commission and Council took the decision to give the agreement further democratic backing by putting it to each country, which is called a 'mixed agreement'. The agreement had already been accepted in the Council, with the nod from of all heads of government and by the European Parliament. In order to get to this stage, the EU had guaranteed that it would fully protect and uphold Europe's standards in areas such as food safety and workers' rights. CETA contains all the guarantees to make sure that the economic gains do not come at the expense of democracy, the environment or consumers' health and safety. The agreement is held up by trade specialists as an exemplar for further trade deals.

Lessons for the UK

The UK’s plans for life post-Brexit are, as yet, far from clear, with speculation on whether the UK will go for a hard Brexit, soft Brexit, dirty Brexit, intelligent Brexit, stupid Brexit or a sunny-side-up Brexit (which probably means no Brexit at all).

Some have speculated that a CETA type agreement might be the only option for the UK if it wants complete control of its borders, and freedom to negotiate trade deals with the rest of the world.

If so, the ongoing EU-Canada deal tells a cautionary tale. The UK can anticipate a long, drawn-out negotiation, with no guarantee that the unanimity required for agreement will be achieved.

Indeed, if Canada-EU relations are complicated, UK-EU relations are several times more so, as the UK is much more reliant on trade with the EU. Theresa May has reportedly told her cabinet that if the UK takes the ‘hard’ Brexit option, it will have to increase trade with other trading partners by 37% - a tall order for any economy, and particularly difficult without any idea of what sort of relationship the UK will have with non-EU partners post-Brexit.

Prime Minister May is meeting with Jean-Claude Juncker this afternoon. In the light of today’s (21 October) development, the Commission’s hand will be further strengthened in future UK-EU negotiations.


Lock 'em up or let 'em out? #Coronavirus prompts wave of prisoner releases



The rapid spread of coronavirus is piling pressure on criminal justice systems globally and has led to a flood of prisoner releases, with the United States, Canada and Germany joining Iran in releasing thousands of detainees, writes Luke Baker.

Germany’s most populous state, North-Rhine Westphalia, announced on Wednesday it would release 1,000 prisoners who are close to the end of their sentences, with sex offenders and violent inmates excluded from the list.

The aim is to free up cells so that quarantined areas can be set up for inmates that contract the disease, with many expected to do so given the tight confinement in any prison facility and the ease with which the virus spreads.

In Canada, 1,000 inmates in the state of Ontario were released last week and lawyers are working with prosecutors to free many more from provincial jails by accelerating bail hearings, among other steps.

“The concern is that a jail sentence can potentially become a death sentence for those that are there,” said Daniel Brown, a Toronto lawyer.

The US state of New Jersey plans to temporarily release around 1,000 low-risk inmates, and New York City’s Board of Corrections, an independent oversight body, has called on the mayor to release around 2,000.

Similar steps are being taken in Britain, Poland and Italy, with authorities set to closely monitor those that are released to ensure it does not lead to a surge in criminal activity or fuel social unrest at a time of national unease.

But while such measures are possible in many developed countries, and may help stem the spread of a disease that has infected more than 420,000 people and killed nearly 19,000, they pose serious challenges in other parts of the world.

In Iran, where around 190,000 people are incarcerated and the coronavirus has infected 25,000 people, the government has announced it will temporarily release 85,000 prisoners, with 10,000 of them being granted pardons.

Depending on how long the crisis lasts - and Iran is already talking about a second wave of infections - criminal justice experts say it may prove difficult to manage a large number of freed prisoners or reincarcerate them.

“The longer this goes on and the more desperate the situation becomes, it may lead to bolder decisions that lead to the release of more violent or more dangerous criminals,” said Keith Ditcham, a senior research fellow in organized crime and policing at Britain’s Royal United Services Institute.

“What do you do when things return to normality? You have a number of undesirables either in your country or traveling globally ... It puts the whole law enforcement effort back by a significant margin.”


In some countries, the fear is that inmates won’t be released. In Venezuela, human rights groups are concerned about the spread of COVID-19 among a prison population of 110,000 in conditions that are already highly unsanitary.

In Bogota, Colombia, a prison riot over coronavirus left 23 prisoners dead and scores injured, and similar unrest has struck detention facilities from Italy to Sri Lanka.

Sudan announced it was releasing more than 4,000 prisoners as a precaution against the disease.

In Brazil, some 1,400 prisoners escaped from four facilities last week ahead of a lockdown over coronavirus, with only around 600 recaptured so far, authorities said.

Even those calling for prisoners to be freed in the hope it will prevent deaths have faced problems. In Egypt, four women were detained a week ago after demonstrating for releases. They themselves were released after questioning.

“What we’re seeing is quite a seismic change in how law enforcement goes about its business in the coming months,” said RUSI’s Ditcham. “The lesser of two evils may be to release all but the most violent and dangerous criminals.”

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#Canada's tech industry goes up thanks to #Brexit and #US-China trade war



As the Brexit and the trade war between the US and China continue to heat up, it seems that Canada got many benefits from it. Canada’s technology stocks are going up since the US-China Trade war. As Silicon Valley takes off steam as the North American technology capital, Canadian tech companies begin to soar high for surplus technology capital.

Brexit and US-China Trade War Affected Canada in a Better Way

Britain and Canada had been in a long-standing political and economic relationship. And as Britain leaves the European Union, Canada started strong. Britain is Canada’s second-largest investment partner and had created the long and fruitful business relationships – from creating jobs for 100,000 Brits in Canada’s. CGI, Inc., a Canadian tech company, is meanwhile bracing itself for an increase in demand for its services as the government adjusts to the new rules. The company announced that they will retain their UK office and that they will focus on helping their clients deal with the challenges related to the Brexit.

eSports industry rises in Canada

As the Brexit and US-China trade war continues, Canada’s eSports industry continues to increase. The UK was one of the first to gaming venues in the 20th century but now China, the USA, and Canada are performing better than the UK gambling entities, especially in the iGaming sector.

Along with eSports, online gambling is a dominant industry linking Canada and the UK. Brexit will help the UK to create an online gambling law framework from scratch. That means the UK can keep up with Canada’s gambling industry. Despite the massive difference in population, the Canadian gambling industry with users has surpassed the UK. What has Canada done differently? North American countries had been free in terms of bold decisions related to the World Wide Web. The same can’t be said about the UK as they were limited by EU decisions. Canada surpassed many countries in the last decade in the digital gambling sector. The contribution to the economy was huge as the country helped business entities to get worldwide recognition.

Canada was the first to create a liberal law framework for the gambling sector. Local gaming operators have created a very friendly environment. Not only locals, but tourists were in a rush to visit Canada and enjoy gaming. Canada created a successful iGaming industry where gamers enjoy playing online real money casino games. The equal environment and offers makes the Canadian casino industry stand out from the crowded competition.

The UK has a chance to transform the gaming industry fully. They have left the EU system but there are many decisions (from the EU) that the UK authorities have to change. There is still a long way for the UK to go as Canada is a decade ahead when it comes to gaming. Canada has not only created a friendly environment, but it has implemented technological achievement first in the world. It’s a sign that the country’s officials believe in technologies, therefore, the freedom of choice of people. When the industry focuses on the user as the ascending point, it starts growing. 

Canada’s Government Reacted Properly Passing Digital Charter with Perfect Timing

With Canada’s booming tech industry amidst the volatility of Brexit and the US-China trade war, the state has passed a somewhat better way to protect its data resources and tech usage. Through the creation of the Digital Charter, the country made sure that its people will trust the tech turn over despite issues with the US and China.

The Digital Charter is made up of ten principles that are built on trust. The principles include control and consent, universal access, safety and security, portability, interoperability, and transparency. Also, these include free from hate, open and modern digital government, a level playing arena, digital and data for good, violent radicalism, strong democracy, robust enforcement, and real accountability.

But the main point of the Digital Charter is that the digital usage of every Canadian is safe, transparent, always for good, and every Canadian has an equal opportunity of its usage. Whoever will use it for illegal use and violate the laws will have severe penalties.

How Canada’s Tech Industry and Economy in General Benefits from a Trade War and the Brexit

With the increase of technology stocks of Canadian tech companies, President Trudeau has assured the many that Brexit has a minimal disruption in the Canadian economy.

As China continues to ban much export of Canada, the US became the primary export market of the country. According to sources, there was a 2.1% increase in exports last 2019 compared to the exports in 2018. As Canada and the US struggled with their ties with China, Canada continued and strengthened its relations with America.

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UK wants same legal autonomy from EU as it showed #Japan and #Canada - PM's office



Britain wants the European Union to show the same respect for legal autonomy it afforded countries such as Canada and Japan when signing trade deals with them, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office said on Tuesday (25 February), write William James and Kylie MacLellan.

Johnson’s office said Britain was determined to protect its legal autonomy in talks with the EU to agree a future relationship, which are due to begin next week. The EU agreed its negotiating mandate on Tuesday.

“The EU has respected the autonomy of other major economies around the world such as Canada and Japan when signing trade deals with them. We just want the same,” Johnson’s Downing Street office said on Twitter.

“We agree the UK’s trade with the EU is significant. The U.S.’s is on the same scale – yet that did not stop the EU being willing to offer the U.S. zero tariffs without the kind of level playing field commitments or the legal oversight they have put in today’s mandate.”

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