Enskilda länder måste godkänna frihandelsavtal enligt Europeiska unionens domstol (EU-domstolen)

ECJ har sagt att det kommande frihandelsavtalet med Singapore måste antas av samtliga medlemsländers parlament skriver nyhetssajten Euractiv.

Frågan var väckt av EU-kommissionen för att bringa klarhet i hur långt EU:s kompetens sträcker sig när det gäller handel.

“The European Union will have to secure approval from national parliaments in order to finalise a free trade deal with Singapore. The bloc’s top court ruled that the agreement in “its current form” cannot be handled by the Commission acting alone.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) today (16 May) said that the European Commission cannot finalise a free trade agreement (FTA) with Singapore, after the EU executive had asked for clarity on whether it has exclusive competence to handle the talks.

Today’s decision follows a December opinion issued by the Court’s Advocate-General, Eleanor Sharpston, who also decided that the agreement covered a number of issues that are shared competence between the member states and the EU.

It was the Commission itself that asked the ECJ to clarify if it alone can conclude the agreement. The executive chose the Singapore deal because of how similar it is in structure to a whole host of other agreements the EU has in the pipeline.”

Domen reser en rad frågor om hur framtida avtal skall hanteras. Det är framför allt internationell skiljedom som uppfattas vara en nationell kompetens:

“The Luxembourg court did acknowledge that a large part of the agreement does fall under exclusive EU competence, as provided by the Common Commercial Policy (CCP). But it highlighted that portfolio investment and dispute settlement between investors and the state cannot be established without member state consent.

While the Court’s final decision did not differ from the Advocate-General’s in its conclusions, it did disagree on a few issues. The AG’s opinion said that sustainable development and transport services, particularly maritime, were a shared competence while the Court ruled they are EU exclusive.

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The executive will now have to decide whether to run the same gauntlet again and hope that the lower profile Singapore agreement can pass through unscathed.

Another option could be splitting the agreement into two halves, one of which would contain all the aspects over which Brussels has exclusive competence, while the other would need to be approved at national and regional level.

This decision by no means jeopardises the EU’s trade policy; it clarifies the increased powers granted to the Commission by the Lisbon Treaty.

The EU executive would no doubt have preferred the court to have ruled in favour of totally exclusive competence but it at least now has a blueprint as it moves forward with other FTAs like Mexico, Mercosur and, perhaps, TTIP.”