CETA to be concluded as a mixed agreement; Commission hopes for signing in October

On July 5, 2016, the European Commission proposed to the Council that the Canada–European Union CETA—agreed to in 2014 and re-concluded in February 2016—be signed as a “mixed agreement,” requiring signature and ratification by each of the EU member states. The Commission thus hopes for “a swift signature and provisional application.” Formal signing would take place in the Canada–European Union Summit, to be held in Brussels in late October.

The move comes one week after Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker reportedly said the opposite—that the CETA would be subjected to a simple approval procedure involving the European Parliament only—even against the preference of French President François Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other EU member state leaders.

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström clarified that “the open issue of competence for such trade agreements will be for the European Court of Justice to clarify, in the near future. From a strict legal standpoint, the Commission considers this agreement to fall under exclusive EU competence. However, the political situation in the Council is clear, and we understand the need for proposing it as a ‘mixed’ agreement, in order to allow for a speedy signature.”

She again praised CETA’s “new investment court system and enhanced rules on investment protection,” which represent “an important step towards the EU’s ultimate goal of a global investment court.”

Bulgaria and Romania stated they would veto the agreement because Canada failed to lift the visa requirement for their nationals. Earlier this year, the Dutch Parliament rejected provisional application of the deal, and Belgium’s Walloon Parliament opposes signature.

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