A new European Court of Justice ruling has made it more difficult
for Britain to seal a major trade deal with the European Union
European Court of Justice’s Advocate General
Eleanor Sharpston published a legal opinion saying that all
38 national and regional parliaments, around five regional and
linguistic parliaments in Belgium, and at least five upper
chambers in Europe have to approve an EU trade deal with
Singapore that is currently in the works.
This highlights the fact that the same will have to be done for
any post-Brexit EU trade deal Britain tries to strike.
This would prove difficult for Britain as it “will make the
process hugely longer, because they will have to keep an eye not
only on what the EU wants but also what all the national capitals
and even the regional parliaments want,” Catherine Barnard, a
professor of European Union law at the University of Cambridge,
Earlier this year the EU-Canada free trade deal (CETA) nearly
collapsed after seven years of talks. It was vetoed by the
Belgian region of Wallonia, which eventually agreed to support
the deal but only after all other parties agreed to a series of
Earlier this month, the British ambassador to the
EU warned May’s government that it could take over a decade to
finalise a post-Brexit trade deal with the EU. He also warned
the government that a proposed UK-EU trade deal could be rejected
by the national parliaments of the other 27 states at the
eleventh hour, as all EU members must approve a trade deal before
it is finally signed off by Brussels.
The new opinion issued from the ECJ authority highlights just how
wide a range of EU authorities will be able to veto any
post-Brexit trade deal. It could delay plans for a long time.
“It’s grossly inconvenient for the UK, which is faced with
exactly the same as what happened with the Canadian agreement and
the Walloons,” Barnard told the Telegraph.
“The Walloons were eventually leant on to change their minds, but
that may not be so easy with the UK deal as it will be more
contentious because it is likely to be more far-reaching,
covering issues like financial services.”
The ECJ makes sure that EU law is applied in the same way to all
EU countries and is there to settle legal disputes between EU
institutions and national governments.