Canada-EU trade talks show optimistic signs, EU envoy says

A senior European Union official says Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office is sounding more "conciliatory" about an imminent resolution to the continent's stalled free-trade talks with Canada.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and British Prime Minister David Cameron weren't able to reach a breakthrough on stalled Canada-EU trade talks at the G8 summit in Northern Ireland in June, but an EU official said recent 'concilliatory' words from Harper's office are reason for optimism. ((Lefteris Pitarakis/AP))

A senior European Union official says Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office is sounding more "conciliatory" about an imminent resolution to the continent's stalled free-trade talks with Canada.

Peter Stastny, the European Union's rapporteur on the Canada-Europe negotiations, says he's more optimistic than he was several months ago.

Stastny says Harper's office is minimizing the gaps that remain on the main unresolved obstacles to a deal, including access for Canadian pork and beef, drug patents and provincial procurements.

He says Harper's office sees "the end of the tunnel" on the negotiations that have dragged on longer than either side would like.

Despite that assessment, Statsny says two big deadlines have been missed.

Those were getting a deal done in time for the European Parliament to ratify it by next year, and beating the recent start of separate EU negotiations with the United States.