Clarification is required as to which provisions fall within the EU’s exclusive or shared competence and which remain in the member states’ remit
The Commission decided today to request an opinion of the Court of Justice on the competence to sign and ratify a trade agreement with Singapore.
Commissioner De Gucht said: ‘I have been saying for months that we need to clarify the interpretation of the Lisbon Treaty as regards trade matters. This is what I have decided to do now. The court can solve an ongoing difference of opinion between the Commission and the Council on the interpretation of the Lisbon Treaty, clarify which procedures to follow and increase EU predictability towards our trade partners.’
The Commission aims to clarify which provisions of the free trade agreement with Singapore fall within the EU’s exclusive or shared competence and which remain in the member states’ remit and require approval by national instances.
As next steps, the Commission’s legal service will prepare a formal request to the court with the intention to submit as soon as possible.
The EU and Singapore have concluded their talks on protection of investment on 17 October 2014. This completed the negotiations for the EU-Singapore free trade agreement, after its other parts were initialled already in September 2013.
The request for a Court of Justice opinion concerns the specific agreement with Singapore. Every trade agreement has its specific characteristics. In case of the EU-US trade talks, for instance there will most likely be a number of elements that will require ratification by national parliaments.