EU countries are considering signing the free trade agreement with Canada this month, but the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) is far from the only deal the EU is working on. Various deals are being negotiated all over the globe, but they can only enter into force if the European Parliament approves them. Read on for an overview of negotiations in progress and a discussion of how it works.
Types of agreements
The EU has different types of agreements in place with countries. They can focus on reducing or eliminating tariff barriers or establishing a customs union by removing customs duties and establishing a joint customs tariff for foreign imports.
It’s not all about tariffs. It could also be about investment and how to deal with disputes involving investment. For example when a company feels a decision by a government is affecting its investment in that country. Non-tariff barriers are also vital such as product standards (for example the EU has banned certain hormones in cattle farming over health fears).
The negotiations for CETA finished in September 2014. The agreement is due to be discussed at the EU summit on 20-21 October in view of its potential signing later this month.
However, Parliament will still need to approve it before it can ultimately enter into force. The international trade committee is set to vote on the trade deal in December and then all MEPs will still have to vote on it during a plenary session. If approved, CETA could already enter into force next year.
Other trade agreements are also in the pipeline.
Negotiations finished but not yet in force
CETA is not the only trade agreement where negotiations have finished but have not yet entered into force. Other trade agreements in this category include:
The Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the United States has proved very controversial over concerns over product standards and the resolution of investment disputes. Since July 2013 there have already been fifteen rounds of negotiations. The latest negotiation round took place earlier this month.
In Asia negotiations are ongoing for:
Malaysia (about halfway, but most difficult issues remain to be resolved)
Indonesia (next round of negotiations expected to take place in the first quarter of 2017)
Thailand (four negotiation rounds so far, but no new ones have been scheduled)
Philippines (next round due to take place before the end of the year)
Japan (possibility it could still be concluded this year)
Myanmar (four rounds of negotiation, but no date set yet for next round)
India (no negotiations at the moment, but discussions on outstanding issues continue)
In Latin America the latest negotiation round for Mercosur took place this month, while the second negotiation round for an agreement with Mexico is to be held in November.
Southern Mediterranean and Middle East: various agreements, including association agreements with eight countries to especially boost trade in goods. Also talks on expanding these agreements in areas such as agriculture and industrial standards with individual countries.
There are no other free trade negotiations ongoing, but there are other talks as well such as negotiations for a comprehensive EU-China investment agreement. This was launched in November 2013 and the latest negotiation round took place in September.
There’s also the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA), a trade agreement currently being negotiated by 23 members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), including the EU. Together, the participating countries account for 70% of world trade in services. There have already been 14 negotiation rounds.
Since the Lisbon Treaty entered into force in 2009, trade agreements need the Parliament’s approval before they can enter into force. MEPs also need to be regularly updated on progress during negotiations.
Parliament has already shown it will not hesitate to veto if there are serious concerns. For example MEPs rejected the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) in 2012.
Compliments of the European Parliament