Roles of European and national law-makers in trade deals clarified, but risk of blockage grows, say S&Ds to ECJ ruling

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Today, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) published its ruling on the EU Singapore Free Trade Agreement. Two aspects of the trade deal, namely provisions relating to non-direct foreign investment and those concerning dispute settlement between investors and states, do not fall under the exclusive competence of the European Union, ruled the ECJ. Accordingly, the EU Singapore trade deal will not only have to be ratified by the European Parliament, but also by national and regional parliaments. While the Socialists and Democrats welcome that the ruling clarifies the allocation of competences between the EU and member states in the ratification of trade deals, they also draw attention to the increased risk of blockage of future trade agreements.

David Martin, S&D spokesperson on the EU Singapore trade deal and MEP, said:

"The good news is that today’s ruling by the European Court of Justice finally unblocks the EU Singapore trade deal, which hopefully can be referred to the European Parliament soon for ratification. We welcome this long-awaited ruling as it brings clarity concerning the allocation of competence between the EU and member states in our free trade agreements. However, the implications of the ECJ’s decision are manifold and require careful consideration.

"Our trade policy must find the right balance between democratic accountability and effectiveness. The EU’s credibility as an international dealmaker and the very future of our trade policy are at stake and our partners are closely watching our every move."

Alessia Mosca, S&D spokesperson on trade and MEP, added:

"The European Court of Justice ruling clarifies the roles of the European Parliament and national chambers in the ratification of trade deals. We must be careful that the EU’s hands do not get tied when negotiating trade deals and that the EU does not lose credibility vis-a-vis our partners. The solution to the lack of involvement by national parliaments should lie in a broader engagement of national chambers during the negotiations phase, and not in a de facto veto power concession when the agreement is already concluded and ratified by the European Parliament.

"The European Parliament is an elected body with the same democratic legitimacy as the various national chambers,  in addition, with the expertise to scrutinize trade deals. We will carefully assess the ruling of the ECJ having in mind both the democratic legitimacy of the European Parliament and the necessity to have a consistent EU trade policy."