Veto right: Will EU free trade be hampered?

National parliaments can veto EU free trade agreements, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled on Tuesday. The ruling is seen as a major setback for the European Commission, which fears that it will cripple European trade policy. Some commentators take the same view while others praise the decision, saying it paves the way for more transparency and co-determination.

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Der Standard (AT) /

Union's ability to act massively restricted

The ECJ ruling will hamper the EU in the Brexit negotiations, Der Standard fears:

“A severe setback for the European Union. In future every agreement is likely to meet with opposition when opponents shout loud enough or individual states use their right of veto as a bargaining chip. This will hugely restrict its ability to act and hamper the negotiation of bilateral agreements. It casts another shadow over Brexit, which was to be softened through a trade agreement with the EU. Brussels is now in a weaker position for negotiating such a pact with London. The current unity vis-à-vis the UK is likely to crumble quickly when it comes to concrete concessions. Europe can't afford more paralysis in its geopolitical dealings.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Ruling for more democracy and transparency

The ECJ's ruling is important and correct, writes the Süddeutsche Zeitung:

“Future free trade agreements only have a chance of being approved if EU negotiators reveal their goals and content at an early stage and take objections seriously. … If consumer and environmental protection laws are watered down in the process of negotiations or investors are put at an unreasonable advantage by private arbitration tribunals, there will be an opportunity to question this and if need be stop it. The secretiveness evident for example in the negotiations for the planned TTIP agreement with the United States wouldn't be possible, and popular acceptance of such agreements would grow considerably. Because the goal of future agreements must be fair free trade from which everyone benefits and none are excluded. More transparency and the right to have a say are crucial for this to happen.”