Saturday

21st May 2022

EU-US trade deal must have national approval, say MPs

  • National parliaments have expressed concern at the scope of the EU-US trade talks encroaching on domestic policy areas. (Photo: dawvon)

A landmark free trade agreements between the EU and US should be subject to approval by national parliaments before it can become law, national deputies have told the European Commission.

The demand is contained in a letter sent last week to EU trade commissioner Karel de Gucht, signed by parliaments in 16 of the EU's 28 countries, including France, Germany and the UK.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The move is the latest sign of wariness among lawmakers about the scope enjoyed by the EU executive in drawing up trade deals on behalf of the bloc.

In particular, the letter singles out the provisionally-agreed trade deal with Canada (known as CETA) and ongoing talks with the US on a trade and investment partnership (TTIP) as accords should be considered as 'mixed agreements' because they deal with both EU and national competences and so subject to ratification by domestic parliaments.

Under the terms of the Lisbon treaty, the European Commission is solely responsible for negotiating trade agreements on the EU's behalf. All trade deals then need the consent of MEPs to be ratified.

"Free trade agreements should be considered as mixed agreements, since they concern policy areas which are within the competences of the member states," the letter states.

"For CETA and TTIP...this is the case for policy areas such as services, transport and investor protection."

The French and German governments have already indicated that investor protection rules potentially allowing companies to take legal action against governments should be left in the hands of national courts.

Trade agreements are to be reviewed at the end of the negotiations, whether it is entirely covered by EU competence or also contains chapters which fall under national competence.

The recently agreed EU-South Korea free trade deal was classified as a 'mixed agreement', requiring ratification by all EU countries.

For his part, De Gucht has indicated that he will seek to clarify the legal boundaries of trade policy under Lisbon through an opinion from the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice.

"Such a move would be in the utmost interest of all national and EU institutions to receive legal clarity for the ratification process for all EU trade agreements in the future," EU Trade spokesman John Clancy told EUobserver. He added that De Gucht would give the letter "his highest attention and reply soon".

National ratifications would inevitably lead to slower approval of agreements, although the average EU trade agreement already takes more than three years to negotiate.

Opinion

Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine - the case for granting EU candidacy

Granting EU candidacy status to Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine will firmly anchor their ties with Brussels — and enable the EU to secure its place in the Black Sea region, connecting Europe to China and energy-rich Central Asia, bypassing Russia.

Opinion

The EU Parliament Covid inquiry: the questions MEPs must ask

A basic lack of transparency around the EU's vaccines procurement negotiations has prevented effective public and parliamentary scrutiny. It has also made it impossible to answer some of the key questions we put forward here.

News in Brief

  1. UK to send 'hundreds' of migrants to Rwanda each year
  2. Norwegian knife attacks were domestic dispute
  3. Sweden hits back at Turkey's 'disinformation' in Nato bid
  4. Germany's Schröder gives up one of two Russia jobs
  5. G7 countries pledge €18bn in financial aid for Ukraine
  6. Italian unions strike in protest over military aid for Ukraine
  7. Russia cuts gas supply to Finland
  8. Half of Gazprom's clients have opened rouble accounts

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic delegation visits Nordic Bridges in Canada
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersClear to proceed - green shipping corridors in the Nordic Region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers agree on international climate commitments
  4. UNESDA - SOFT DRINKS EUROPEEfficient waste collection schemes, closed-loop recycling and access to recycled content are crucial to transition to a circular economy in Europe
  5. UiPathNo digital future for the EU without Intelligent Automation? Online briefing Link

Latest News

  1. What Europe still needs to do to save its bees
  2. Remembering Falcone: How Italy almost became a narco-state
  3. Economic worries and Hungary on the spot Next WEEK
  4. MEPs urge sanctioning the likes of ex-chancellor Schröder
  5. MEPs call for a more forceful EU response to Kremlin gas cut
  6. Catalan leader slams Pegasus use: 'Perhaps I'm still spied on'
  7. More EU teams needed to prosecute Ukraine war crimes
  8. French EU presidency struggling on asylum reforms

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us