Trade deal update

16 May 2017

Unless mechanisms like ISDS (Investor-State Dispute Settlement) are excluded from any post-Brexit EU-UK trade deal, it will be harder to reach agreement, Labour MEPs warned today after the European Court of Justice ruled the EU-Singapore trade deal must be ratified by forty-three parliaments across Europe because of its inclusion of ISDS and non-direct foreign investment.

David Martin MEP, Socialists and Democrats Group spokesperson on the EU-Singapore trade deal, said:

“Today’s ECJ ruling provides welcome clarity on the European Union's internal procedures and will have a significant impact on its current and future trade agreements, including a post-Brexit EU-UK deal.

“Any agreement containing investor to state arbitration will have to be ratified by more than forty different parliaments across the EU before entering into force. This process could take up to a decade, and that's on top of the time needed for negotiations in the first place.

“As we saw with CETA, the EU-Canada trade deal, this extended ratification process also creates opportunities for smaller regions like Wallonia to block the whole agreement, thereby increasing the risk of failure and a catastrophic 'no deal' scenario.”

Jude Kirton-Darling MEP, member of the international trade committee, added:

“The main reason the European Court of Justice has ruled the EU-Singapore trade deal must go through forty-three national and regional parliaments is because of the provisions on investment, notably ISDS.

“Throughout negotiations for CETA and TTIP - the proposed EU-US trade deal - we have been told that ISDS is essential to securing a free trade agreement. This ruling proves that it actually makes it harder. Any EU-UK trade deal will face similar obstacles if controversial and unpopular clauses are included.

“Today’s ruling also provides a broader warning to the UK government. If the Tories want a stable and strong future trade deal with the EU, then the government will have to start engaging constructively with parliamentarians across Europe now, setting the right tone for the negotiations.

“Theresa May, Boris Johnson and the rest of them must stop attacking our neighbours and start courting them. Only Labour is proposing to reset the negotiations to rebuild the bridges needed to get 43 parliaments on-board, while the Tories continue their strategy of insults and isolation, which has led us to this point of chaos and shows no sign of ever working.”

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