Reactions to the ECJ ruling on the EU-Singapore FTA
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) today ruled on the division of competences in the bilateral trade agreement between the EU and Singapore. Most of the competences, such as transport, sustainable development and intellectual property rights, which have caused year-long disputes between the EU and its Member States, have been attributed to the European level. “We finally have a clear view and can see the way forward”, said Daniel Caspary MEP, the EPP Group Spokesman on trade.
The ruling will have an effect on all future trade deals the EU aims to conclude, including the post-Brexit agreement the United Kingdom is striving to achieve. “Today’s decision has clarified the approval procedures for future trade agreements. We now need separate agreements for all the policies which fall under EU competence and all those under the responsibility of the Member States. This would strengthen our ability to act and make it easier for our citizens to distinguish between the responsibilities and competences of the political levels”, Caspary explained.
The negotiations between the EU and Singapore were completed in December 2012. In September 2013, the treaty text was initialled and translated into all official EU languages. The European Commission now has to ensure that already-negotiated agreements, such as with Singapore and Vietnam, can enter into force without any delay and in accordance with the requirements set out by the ECJ. At the same time, together with Parliament and Council, the Commission must guarantee that negotiation mandates for future trade negotiations are divided clearly.
Greens/EFA Group – ECJ ruling will change the way future deals are made
The ruling will have major implications for future EU trade deals, says Greens/EFA trade spokesperson Heidi Hautala : “This is a landmark decision that will shape the way that future EU free trade agreements are negotiated. It is now clear that Member States must be involved in the approval of any free trade deal. The European Commission has been over-stepping its competence when it comes to free trade, using these deals to sneak through changes to the single market that would never have gained support were they presented via EU regulations. This ruling should help prevent this, by creating a more open and transparent process. With confidence in the EU’s ability to conduct trade negotiations in the public interest severely damaged by recent experience, the European Commission must welcome greater scrutiny of trade deals.”
Greens/EFA trade spokesperson Yannick Jadot added: “The EU needs to change its approach to trade policy. There is a huge democratic deficit in the way that trade deals are being negotiated. That is why national parliaments need to be involved at the beginning and throughout the process, to make sure that all 28 Member States take responsibility for what they have agreed. But it’s not just on process that we want to see changes. Instead of prioritising the demands of a small number of multinational corporations, the litmus test of any trade deal should be whether it will improve social and working standards, protect our environment, and create quality and sustainable jobs.”
ALDE Group – EU-Singapore trade ruling: Time to increase the EU’s ability to play a strong role in global trade
According to today’s ruling, two aspects of the agreement do not fall within the EU’s exclusive competence, namely the field of non-direct foreign investment and the dispute settlement between investors and Sates. Guy Verhofstadt, President of the ALDE group in the European Parliament, said today: “This long awaited ruling ends a period of uncertainty. I welcome the Court’s decision to confirm exclusive EU competence over a wide range of areas, while narrowing down the areas of shared competence. The EU has the full competence and legitimacy to negotiate, conclude and ratify modern, value based trade agreements covering important areas such as sustainable development, IPR and anti-competitive activities. Such agreements can swiftly enter into force after ratification by the European Parliament. For the limited areas of shared competence defined by the court, we should in the future envisage separate agreements, concluded jointly by the EU and Member States and ratified by national parliaments. Such a separation would enhance the ability of the EU to conclude trade deals. At the same time, Member States have a duty to involve their parliaments and citizens, and keep them informed throughout the negotiation process, so that their decisions in the Council are backed by the public.”
MEP Ramon Tremosa i Balcells, ALDE Shadow on the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement , added: ” We have always been in favour of trade agreements and of free and fair trade. Trade is as an essential tool to growth. In fact, I firmly believe that Europe cannot grow with more public debts like in the past but by openly trading with the world. With Singapore, I believe that enough time has already been lost. Singapore is a dynamic economy in which thousands of European companies already operate without any problems, it is a gateway for trade to Asia. Europe also needs the capital and funds Singapore is ready to invest in Europe. The free trade agreement with Singapore should not be slowed down any longer, it is a win-win situation for both sides. As a Catalan and European”