The Singapore Opinion or the End of Mixity as We Know It

Last week on Tuesday, with its decision in Opinion 2/15, on the Union’s competence to conclude ‘new generation’ EU trade and investment agreements, the Court dropped a bombshell. The Court’s ruling is set to significantly simplify the EU’s international economic relations with third countries. If the Commission, the Council and the member states had demanded clarity as to which institutions may legitimately pursue the Union’s external action objectives in its commercial relations: clarity is what they earned. The decision indeed has the potential to greatly facilitate an ‘EU-only’ signing and conclusion of future EU trade agreements. At the same time, as we argue below, the Court’s reasoning entails a number of contradicting elements that may add confusion over the legal parameters of post-Lisbon EU external relations conduct.

Overall, the Court created the conditions for more effective, efficient, and politically legitimate EU external economic action while preserving its own credibility as the ultimate EU arbiter. Indeed, the Court has done no less than giving a clear mandate to the institutions of the EU, while placing a good amount of investment related homework on the desks of the member states.

The ‘CETA drama’ associated with the Wallonian opposition to the signing, provisional application, and conclusion of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Partnership Agreement (CETA) had cast significant doubts over the Union’s ability to exercise its role as the driver of EU external economic integration. The ‘Wallonian Saga’, and the veto-powers of member states when external treaties are concluded as mixed agreements, had exposed considerable weaknesses of the Union as an external actor associated with problems related to democratic representation as well as effectiveness and efficiency of CCP governance ...

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