Monday

23rd Jan 2017

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.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

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.

News in Brief

  1. Fury over UK 'cover up' of failed missile test
  2. Theresa May: I will not be afraid to stand up to Trump
  3. Brexit will destroy NI peace deal, says Gerry Adams
  4. EU housing price increase by 4.3%
  5. EU trade chief says UK deal will take 'couple of years'
  6. German defence spending boost not enough for Nato goal
  7. Belgian MPs refuse to give up free alcohol
  8. Merkel last leader to get call from Obama

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. World VisionEU Urged to do Better Ahead of Helsinki Conference on Syria
  2. Caritas EuropaEU States to Join Pope Francis’s Appeal to Care for Migrant Children
  3. UNICEFNumber of Unaccompanied Children Arriving by sea to Italy Doubles in 2016
  4. Nordic Council of Ministers"Nordic Matters" Help Forge Closer Bonds Between the UK and the Nordic Region
  5. Computers, Privacy & Data ProtectionThe age of Intelligent Machines: join the Conference on 25-27 January 2017
  6. Martens CentreNo Better way to Lift Your Monday Blues Than to Gloss Over our Political Cartoons
  7. Dialogue PlatformThe Gulen Movement: An Islamic Response to Terror as a Global Challenge
  8. European Free AllianceMinority Rights and Autonomy are a European Normality
  9. Swedish EnterprisesHow to Create EU Competitiveness Post-Brexit? Seminar on January 24th
  10. European Jewish CongressSchulz to be Awarded the European Medal for Tolerance for his Stand Against Populism
  11. Nordic Council of Ministers"Adventures in Moominland" Kick Off Nordic Matters Festival in London
  12. PLATO15 Fully-Funded PhDs Across Europe on the Post-Crisis Legitimacy of the EU - Apply Now!

Latest News

  1. Future of euro on EU agenda This WEEK
  2. Pope warns populism could lead to 'saviours' like Hitler
  3. How the EU can protect the world’s forest by tackling corruption
  4. Leftist newcomer takes lead in French Socialist primary
  5. Far-right groups pledge allegiance ahead of elections
  6. Trump pledges US-first foreign policy
  7. GMO opt-out plan remains in waiting room
  8. Trump: New sheriff in town