EU court deals blow to quick trade deals

BRUSSELS: EU trade deals must endure a potentially bruising process of ratification by all member states, the European Union’s highest court ruled on Tuesday, with possible consequences for Brexit.
Britain hopes to win a fast-track trade deal with Europe after it negotiates its divorce from the EU but the decision by the European Court of Justice could cripple that plan.
In a closely watched decision, the EU court said that any trade deal that includes a non-court dispute settlement system would require ratification by the EU’s 38 national and regional authorities.
The ruling gives power on trade issues back to national politicians at a time when opposition to globalisation in the west is on the rise.
US President Donald Trump won his election last year on a fiercely protectionist agenda and killed off a blockbuster trade deal with Asia within just days in office.
“It follows that the free trade agreement can, as it stands, only be concluded by the EU and the Member States jointly,” the court said in a statement. The decision applied to an EU-Singapore treaty signed in 2013, but will stand as key jurisprudence for future trade deals including any deal with Britain. — AFP