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EU Commission surrenders approval of CETA to national parliaments. Sign of things to come?

Cato

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‘Credibility of Europe’s trade policy at stake’ – POLITICO

In an extraordinary volte-face, the Commission on Tuesday yielded to pressure from France and Germany by deciding that national parliaments would have to ratify a landmark trade deal with Canada.

This so-called “mixed agreement” means passing the buck to almost 40 national and regional assemblies, raising fears that the deal could face delays or even, in extreme circumstances, a veto.
A interesting development. One unforeseen consequence of Brexit (and a victim of the French/German electoral cycles) has been the successful wrestling of trade policy competency away from the EU Commission and Parliament and back to national and (some) regional assemblies.

The nature of power is to centralise. It is rarely distributed away from the centre without some disruptive event occurring. The crisis in this case is Brexit, but deeper than that, and a contributory cause of Brexit too, has been the disconnection between the EU centre and the periphery, that is to say, the EU's citizens. This loss of competency by the EU institutions and its distribution back out to national and regional assemblies may only be temporary, or it may be a sign of things to come.

The present case concerns CETA, a trade agreement with Canada, but looming in the background is the TTIP trade agreement currently being negotiated with the USA. This may mark the death, or serious revision, of the latter.
 
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ShoutingIsLeadership

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Common trade area and single market, decentralises the decision-making on trade deals?

Seems contradictory
 

Cato

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Common trade area and single market, decentralises the decision-making on trade deals?

Seems contradictory
Indeed. That's why this is so significant. The reaction on the Canadian side is one of exasperation as the process to formally ratify the deal may now take years. If the Canadians were going to face this hassle they might have been better off negotiating with their key potential trading partners in the EU.
 

Lumpy Talbot

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‘Credibility of Europe’s trade policy at stake’ – POLITICO



A interesting development. One unforeseen consequence of Brexit (and a victim of the French/German electoral cycles) has been the successful wrestling of trade policy competency away from the EU Commission and Parliament and back to national and (some) regional assemblies.

The nature of power is to centralise. It is rarely distributed away from the centre without some disruptive event occurring. The crisis in this case is Brexit, but deeper than that, and a contributory cause of Brexit too, has been the disconnection between the EU centre and the periphery, that is to say, the EU's citizens. This loss of competency by the EU institutions and its distribution back out to national and regional assemblies may only be temporary, or it may be a sign of things to come.

The present case concerns CETA, a trade agreement with Canada, but looming in the background is the TTIP trade agreement currently being negotiated with the USA. This may mark the death, or serious revision, of the latter.
Very fine OP. Nicely balanced and poses interesting questions.
 

Cato

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The other highly significant feature of this is that it has now set the precedent by which the far more controversial TTIP trade deal (with the USA) will be ratified. It will run into severe difficulty in several EU states and this may well signal the death knell for that deal in the absence of significant alterations to its content.
 

Cato

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ShoutingIsLeadership

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Indeed. That's why this is so significant. The reaction on the Canadian side is one of exasperation as the process to formally ratify the deal may now take years. If the Canadians were going to face this hassle they might have been better off negotiating with their key potential trading partners in the EU.

Could it be that this is directed at The UK?
 

GDPR

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It might be to satisfy the French, and to a lesser extent, the Germans. Neither are very pleased with TTIP from what I have read.
Well that would be the end of that then.

There's nothing like a community of equals and the EU is nothing like a..............................
 

Cato

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It might be to satisfy the French, and to a lesser extent, the Germans. Neither are very pleased with TTIP from what I have read.
The French are not terribly keen on TTIP and were determined that the far less controversial CETA agreement would have to be ratified by the national parliaments precisely so as to ensure that TTIP would face the same test. Several ministers have already indicated their opposition to TTIP.

For the Germans, it was more the case that the current government didn't want to have to take responsibility for approving of this deal at EU level, a deal that is also not popular in Germany, in the face of the coming election. They want CETA to be ratified, but want their parliament to do it so as to take the focus and responsibility off the government itself. As an aside, the Germans also seem to have lost any previous fondness for Junker and were happy to use this to cut him down to size. He may not last for much longer.
 

Cato

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Could it be that this is directed at The UK?
Scanning through some of the Canadian reaction (I'll see if I can find the link again) there was some comment on the fact that they might find it easier to do a deal with the old mother country, than with the EU. Likewise, some British voices are pointing out that they're more than ready to cut deals in the brave new world they find themselves in.

Remember also the speed with which New Zealand moved to offer trade negotiators to the UK to aid them in striking international trade deals outside the EU. Some of the commonwealth countries were quite put out back in the 70s when the UK joined the EU and essential forgot about their old 'colonies', leaving them trading with the UK through EU tariff barriers. Some of them would relish free trade with the UK - the New Zealand food industry certainly would!
 

Carlos Danger

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The French are not terribly keen on TTIP and were determined that the far less controversial CETA agreement would have to be ratified by the national parliaments precisely so as to ensure that TTIP would face the same test. Several ministers have already indicated their opposition to TTIP.

For the Germans, it was more the case that the current government didn't want to have to take responsibility for approving of this deal at EU level, a deal that is also not popular in Germany, in the face of the coming election. They want CETA to be ratified, but want their parliament to do it so as to take the focus and responsibility off the government itself. As an aside, the Germans also seem to have lost any previous fondness for Junker and were happy to use this to cut him down to size. He may not last for much longer.
Juncker has been found out. He's nowhere near the politician Barroso is.
 

Lumpy Talbot

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My thanks. What are your own thoughts on this?
I'm currently engaged in an unusual activity on politics.ie and thinking through the motivations of the Commission and the implications:) My initial thoughts are that I have my doubts it is a Brexit related move. The short elapsed period from the Brexit vote and the glacial way in which decisions are made at Commission level leads me to suspect that the Commission some months ago took some serious flak from the media and from MEPs when there was that farcical caper of MEPs not being allowed proper access to TTIP proposals.

Then again if it is related to the Brexit vote it would mean that Germany and France have leaned on the Commission saying that now is not the right time for the Commission to be appearing to speak for the whole EU. There was that disastrous pseudo-Potsdam style meeting following Brexit where the six founding member states of the EC lost the run of themselves and started issuing statements without consultation with other member states.

I still have a feeling this is about more than the current optics and it may be that the Commission feels it needs to have clean hands as it approaches TTIP discussions.

Perhaps a change in direction with more backroom deals between Commission members and a carefully staged show of unanimity around TTIPs is seen as the better route now rather than the Commission just signing up and facing a blitzkrieg of criticism later. Not enough info yet but I agree that this kicking of the Canada trade deal out to member states is a significant event.
 

Cato

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Juncker has been found out. He's nowhere near the politician Barroso is.
There's a fundamental deficit of leadership at the top of the EU right now, including among the heads of government of the key states. Most of them seem stuck in the 'more Europe as the only solution' frame of mind with a kind of terror if anything that lies outside of that. The main features missing are clarity of vision for what the mission and destiny of the EU might be, a vision that must speak in some way to the European peoples, but, more than that, there is a failure of courage.

That being said, the penny appears to be dropping for some of them:

[video=youtube;mTyPtEAqGxk]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mTyPtEAqGxk[/video]

Watch past the kicking he delivers to the Brits at the start*. Once you get to the meat of it, he starts talking about the urgent need to reconnect with the priorities of EU citizens or else prepare for further exit referendum in other states. (However, his assertion that EU peoples want an EU army would certainly be something that would doom any new treaty in Ireland.)

*This kind of thing needs to stop. While it may give them some satisfaction, ultimately its just irking those, and not just Brits, who are dissatisfied with the EU - it's only confirming their reasons for feeling disconnected with the EU institutions.
 

Carlos Danger

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There's a fundamental deficit of leadership at the top of the EU right now, including among the heads of government of the key states. Most of them seem stuck in the 'more Europe as the only solution' frame of mind with a kind of terror if anything that lies outside of that. The main features missing are clarity of vision for what the mission and destiny of the EU might be, a vision that must speak in some way to the European peoples, but, more than that, there is a failure of courage.

That being said, the penny appears to be dropping for some of them:

[video=youtube;mTyPtEAqGxk]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mTyPtEAqGxk[/video]

Watch past the kicking he delivers to the Brits at the start*. Once you get to the meat of it, he starts talking about the urgent need to reconnect with the priorities of EU citizens or else prepare for further exit referendum in other states. (However, his assertion that EU peoples want an EU army would certainly be something that would doom any new treaty in Ireland.)

*This kind of thing needs to stop. While it may give them some satisfaction, ultimately its just irking those, and not just Brits, who are dissatisfied with the EU - it's only confirming their reasons for feeling disconnected with the EU institutions.
I do agree with the gist of what he's saying there. He's not wrong when he talks about Europe becoming an expert in the amount of water that needs to be flushed in a toilet and aren't doing much to tackle terrorism or migration. That is at least, the perception, and in politics perception is reality.
 

gijoe

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The other highly significant feature of this is that it has now set the precedent by which the far more controversial TTIP trade deal (with the USA) will be ratified. It will run into severe difficulty in several EU states and this may well signal the death knell for that deal in the absence of significant alterations to its content.
TTIP looks dead after Hollande saying he's against it.
 

Cato

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I'm currently engaged in an unusual activity on politics.ie and thinking through the motivations of the Commission and the implications:) My initial thoughts are that I have my doubts it is a Brexit related move. The short elapsed period from the Brexit vote and the glacial way in which decisions are made at Commission level leads me to suspect that the Commission some months ago took some serious flak from the media and from MEPs when there was that farcical caper of MEPs not being allowed proper access to TTIP proposals.

Then again if it is related to the Brexit vote it would mean that Germany and France have leaned on the Commission saying that now is not the right time for the Commission to be appearing to speak for the whole EU. There was that disastrous pseudo-Potsdam style meeting following Brexit where the six founding member states of the EC lost the run of themselves and started issuing statements without consultation with other member states.

I still have a feeling this is about more than the current optics and it may be that the Commission feels it needs to have clean hands as it approaches TTIP discussions.

Perhaps a change in direction with more backroom deals between Commission members and a carefully staged show of unanimity around TTIPs is seen as the better route now rather than the Commission just signing up and facing a blitzkrieg of criticism later. Not enough info yet but I agree that this kicking of the Canada trade deal out to member states is a significant event.
My impression, and this is shared by a colleague working in Brussels, is that this has been forced upon the Commission. They're actually quite incensed by it as it is a diminution of their authority. If anything, and I accept your point that the only connection with Brexit may be post hoc, this is a sign of Junker's decline in stature at the top of the EU.

Certainly several member states have been determined that TTIP should be ratified by their parliaments and they chose to win the battle over TTIP on the field of CETA and have been successful there.

Longer term, this will harm the EU's ability to negotiate trade deals. In the case of CETA, several eastern EU states want Canada to grant visa waivers for their citizens as part of the agreement and Canada could well find itself having to negotiate directly with those states, which somewhat defeats the purpose of a single trade block .
 

Cato

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I do agree with the gist of what he's saying there. He's not wrong when he talks about Europe becoming an expert in the amount of water that needs to be flushed in a toilet and aren't doing much to tackle terrorism or migration. That is at least, the perception, and in politics perception is reality.
Bishop Berkley was almost right! To be perceived is to be!

Aye, is one among many within the EU's institutions that appears to have suddenly gained an acute appreciation for the moment of danger facing the EU.
 

Lumpy Talbot

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My impression, and this is shared by a colleague working in Brussels, is that this has been forced upon the Commission. They're actually quite incensed by it as it is a diminution of their authority. If anything, and I accept your point that the only connection with Brexit may be post hoc, this is a sign of Junker's decline in stature at the top of the EU.

Certainly several member states have been determined that TTIP should be ratified by their parliaments and they chose to win the battle over TTIP on the field of CETA and have been successful there.

Longer term, this will harm the EU's ability to negotiate trade deals. In the case of CETA, several eastern EU states want Canada to grant visa waivers for their citizens as part of the agreement and Canada could well find itself having to negotiate directly with those states, which somewhat defeats the purpose of a single trade block .
Still- it is do-able though and we still have plenty of mechanisms for bilateral agreement. In some ways it might be easier in the end for Canadian negotiators to trade with countries who want something different than another member state and it might actually strengthen resulting agreements.

There can't be much motivation in Poland to protect a trade agreement with Canada where the terms only suit France and Germany. Sometimes I think a built in and upfront level of complexity makes an agreement stronger rather than a cookie-cutter with no visible benefits for individual member states. May prevent issues later.
 


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