EurActiv.com

EU news and policy debates across languages

05/12/2016

The Brief: MEPs quash CETA challenge but what about Wallonia?

The Brief: MEPs quash CETA challenge but what about Wallonia?

The Brief is EurActiv.com's evening newsletter.

MEPS QUASH CETA CHALLENGE BUT WHAT ABOUT WALLONIA?

MEPs today quashed a proposed resolution to refer CETA, the EU-Canada trade deal, to the European Court of Justice by a significant majority.

Questions had been asked about whether the creation of international investment courts for CETA would interfere with the ECJ’s status as the final arbiter of EU law.

The European Commission, and now the Parliament, have resisted calls for the ECJ to issue an opinion on that issue. Both institutions point to work by their respective lawyers that say it shouldn’t be a problem.

Problematically, the Commission won’t publish those arguments. But sources have pointed out that the international tribunals would be ruling on the provisions of the free trade agreement, rather than EU law.

If the court provisions are found to be illegal after CETA enters into force, the EU will be locked into the court system for 25 years regardless.

But so what? CETA has been backed by all member states, the deal has been in the making for seven years, and is finally on the home stretch.

But don’t investors and businesses want and demand legal certainty? And doesn’t it make sense to publicly demonstrate that this “gold standard” agreement is copper-bottomed?

Even if the court system is “illegal”, that only becomes an issue if judges scrutinise CETA. Which they can’t, unless the Commission, Parliament or a member state asks it to.

Remember Wallonia? One of the concessions the Belgian regional parliament won in return for dropping its veto on the deal was that Belgium would ask the ECJ for a legal opinion.

If the institutions’ lawyers are right, the EU judges will back CETA. If they don’t, an illegal agreement won’t enter into force and some solution will be found.

Either way is a win-win. Without this certainty, CETA and wider EU trade policy is vulnerable to future legal challenges, perhaps from a new national government with less time for free trade.

If Belgium keeps its promise, and a four month fast track process is in the works, MEPs will be indebted to Wallonia – just weeks after heaping scorn on its politicians for blocking CETA in the first place.

THE ROUNDUP

Isn’t it egg-citing? Isn’t it egg-cellent? Or is it in fact a massive gaudy waste of our money? Make up your own mind after taking a look at these photos of the new Europa building. And what on earth are those carpets about?

Jean-Claude Juncker wrote to Parliament counterpart Martin Schulz today asking for MEP’s views on his proposal to tighten the code of conduct for Commissioners.

Juncker wants to extend the “cooling-off period” and to allow his Commissioners to stand in the European elections without taking a leave of absence.

Environmentalists took a hit today, after the EU threw in the towel on national energy support schemes. Energy providers will probably still be paid to keep power-plants on standby, despite efforts being made by Brussels to scrap such capacity mechanisms.

The COP22 climate summit also failed to resolve the issue of climate financing and the issue has been put on the backburner until 2018. At least the Parliament agreed on new rules to stem the trade of conflict minerals, even if they are a little underwhelming.

Oh and do you want the good or bad news first? Turns out Europeans are living longer, but we aren’t necessarily more healthy.

Remain MP Jo Cox’s killer was found guilty of her 16 June murder. The depreciation of the British pound means that the UK will end up paying an extra €900 million a year into the EU budget (which will please Romania).

LOOK OUT FOR…

Christmas must be near, because it’s Turkey, Turkey, Turkey at the moment. Coup-survivor Erdogan says a European Parliament vote tomorrow on maybe suspending his country’s EU membership bid “has no value” and the president’s purge of the military has all but scrapped reliable NATO operations beyond Europe’s eastern border. It is also the EU-Ukraine summit tomorrow.

All views expressed are the author’s, and not our sponsor’s.

This Brief is powered by EuroACE, the European Alliance of Companies for Energy Efficiency in Buildings, representing 280,000 employees and working together with EU institutions to help Europe move towards an efficient use of energy in buildings. Watch the highlights of Renovate Europe Day 2016

subscribe-to-the-brief-button