The EU hopes to start talks on a trade deal with New Zealand this year, the EU Commission announced this week, but adding only after all the preparatory work was complete.
The problem the EU has is that on past form it is hidebound, riven by conflicting interests squabbles and is getting left behind. It took the EU a marathon 7 years to negotiate and then 2 years to ratify the Canada deal.
A recent opinion from the highly-regarded Advocate General (AG) Sharpston of the European Court on the proposed EU-Singapore trade deal, Opinion Procedure C-2/15, that it can only be ratified by the EU and members states acting together further complicates things.
Although strictly not binding on the European Court the AG’s opinion is usually followed. This opinion especially is a hugely impressive and comprehensive legal analysis of the complex issues of the EU ratifying treaties. Her opinion runs to 570 paragraphs, plus an appendix of 131 paragraphs and 418 footnotes.
Tellingly the AG notes in her paragraph 565 that:-
“A ratification process involving all the Member States alongside the European Union is of necessity likely to be both cumbersome and complex. It may also involve the risk that the outcome of lengthy negotiations may be blocked by a few Member States or even by a single Member State. That might undermine the efficiency of EU external action and have negative consequences for the European Union’s relations with the third State(s) concerned.”
Sadly the EU is now sclerotic in its ratification of international deals.
Tax Barrister, Accountant