Seimas again delays ratification of free trade deal with Canada

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Agnė Širinskienė

The Lithuanian parliament's Health Affairs Committee has no intentions of deciding on ratification of the free trade agreement between the European Union (EU) and Canada any time soon, although Lithuania's diplomats expected decisions on the matter during the spring session already.

The committee's chairperson Agnė Širinskienė of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union told BNS that the committee would decide after the agreement is evaluated by the European Union's Court of Justice, at the request of Belgium. The committee is discussing the ratification as an additional body, however, the main Foreign Affairs Committee cannot take a decision without its conclusion.

"There have been some developments on the European arena over the summer – Belgium turned to the Court of Justice of the European Union with a request to conclude on the validity of the agreement. I believe it is wise to wait for its conclusion, if such issues arise at the Court of Justice," said Širinskienė.

In September, Belgium took the agreement to the Court of Justice after taking the decision as a compromise with its French-speaking Wallonia region, which had threatened to fully block the document.

Meanwhile, Lithuania's Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius and opposition members of the parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee say the Health Affairs Committee is procrastinating the decision without any reason.

"The agreement is extremely important both for Europe and for Canada, and I hope that the questions that had been raised (by critics of the agreement) had been answered, therefore, the stalling is not an objective thing. I hope everything should be settled shortly, as it has been stalled by a single committee, the Health Committee, but I indeed see no objective reasons why this should go on," Linkevičius told BNS.

Liberal MP Aušrinė Armonaitė, a member of the parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee, said the Health Affairs Committee's position was type of a "malicious action."

Latvia was the first country to ratify the EU-Canada free trade agreement, which has also been endorsed by a number of EU countries, including Denmark, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Malta, Spain and Portugal.

Source: BNS
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