EU Economics

EU PARALYSIS: Brussels dealt hammer blow which could KILL OFF all future trade deals

BELEAGUERED Brussels was dealt another severe body blow today as Europe’s top judge threw a massive spanner in the works over its hopes to seal future trade deals across the globe.

Judges at the European Court of Justice and Jean-Claude JunckerEPA/GETTY

The EU has been dealt a hammer blow on future trade deals

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) sparked pandemonium with a strong hint that the EU will have to seek the approval of all national parliaments before striking economic pacts from now on.Eurocrats were left humiliated earlier this year when the tiny Belgian region of Wallonia held up the signing of a trade deal with Canada, sparking a European constitutional crisis.
Today’s non-binding opinion, issued by the ECJ’s advocate-general, could also have a seismic impact on Britain’s exit from the bloc, as any post-Brexit trade deal will now have to be ratified by scorned member states.

Judges at the European Court of JusticeGETTY

The European Court of Justice could rule that national parliaments have to ratify all trade deals

Theresa MayAFP

The opinion is also bad news for Theresa May’s hopes of a post-Brexit trade pact with Brussels

It raises the possibility the UK, like Canada, could be held to ransom by obscure regional politicians looking to grandstand to their electorates or blackmail Brussels into handing over more development cash.Europe’s reputation as a beacon of free trade had already been severely damaged by the Canada farce, and the ECJ’s pronouncement is only likely to further put countries off seeking deals with the bloc.It is also a major blow to Jean-Claude Juncker’s EU Commission, which had been hoping to establish that it had ultimate competency over Brussels’ ability to negotiate and strike commercial pacts.

The court stepped in after the Commission referred a trade deal signed between the EU and Singapore, as well as a similar upcoming agreement with Japan which could now be in jeopardy.Eurocrats wanted to settle once and for all whether EU-wide trade deals can be approved solely by the bloc’s three big institutions – the Commission, Council and Parliament – or whether they had to be ratified by member state parliaments as well.But the ruling went against them, with the opinion stating: “Advocate-General Eleanor Sharpston considers that the [Singapore trade agreement] can only be concluded by the EU and the member states acting jointly.”

It added: “While the Advocate General notes that difficulties may arise from a ratification process involving all of the Member States alongside the EU, she considers that that cannot affect the question of who has competence to conclude the agreement.”

The top judge argued a number of key planks of current and future EU trade deals, including the setting up of the highly controversial Investor Dispute Settlement System (ISDS) that allows corporations to sue governments, can only be agreed by member states.

Whilst her opinion is not binding on the EU as of yet, it is an important indication of how the final court case over the issue, which is due to be concluded in the spring, will rule.All 28 judges at the ECJ will have a say in that hearing, with some commentators speculating that the issue is such political dynamite that they could go against the Advocate-General’s view and side with the Commission.

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Trouble is the EU will do what they always do ignore anything that is inconvenient for them and do what they want to do anyway. They only ever obey their own rules when they work in favor of what they want.

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