Trade deals have been in the news since Brexit and come with a reputation for being notoriously long-winded to complete. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker wants to change this, proposing possible procedural alterations to speed up the ratification of future trade deals. Having seen the TTIP agreement with the USA mothballed and the EU trade agreement with Canada almost derailed by the parliament of the Belgian region Wallonia, Juncker is expected to announce a new framework bypassing regional and national parliaments on large parts of any future deals.
As it stands, the EU negotiates trade deals for its members, with most elements being ratified by the European Parliament and the member state governments at the Council. However, sections relating to investment need to be ratified by national or regional parliaments, of which there are 40. These sections can include issues such as investors suing national governments and can lead to delays and amendments being made on the request of a parliament, which then has to be agreed by all parties. Jean-Claude Juncker's expected proposal is to split any future trade deals.
By taking out parts relating to investment the EU will hope to be able to ratify the large part of future trade deals without the need to involve national and regional parliaments. This will lead to some opposition, but with talks due to begin with Australia and New Zealand, plus ambitions for deals with Mexico and the trading bloc Mercosur, Jean-Claude Juncker will be keen to implement any new procedures quickly. An EU Court of Justice ruling permitting a similar trade agreement arrangement for Singapore could set the tone, and it is one the UK will watch with interest ahead of their own trade talks with the EU.
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