Legal opinion on EU-Mercosur trade deal

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The European Commissionʼs possible attempts to fast track the EU-Mercosur trade deal: an attack on democracy

The European Commission has given indications that it is exploring options regarding the „legal basis“ of the EU-Mercosur association agreement. Likely on the table is a procedural trick to bypass the opposition of a number of EU Member States and of their parliaments: the so-called „splitting“. Having been designed as an association agreement, the EU-Mercosur deal can only be adopted if all EU Member States agree on it unanimously, or in other words: at the moment, every Member State has a right of veto. Furthermore, national and/or regional parliaments throughout the EU also have the right to approve or reject the deal through the national ratification process.

This analysis confirms that, by proposing the conclusion of a split or interim free trade agreement, the European Commission would make a manoeuvre with significant negative repercussions on the democratic process. In our view, such a manoeuvre is intended to push a quick entry into force of the EU-Mercosur trade deal, despite widespread concerns regarding its negative environmental and social impacts. It would have the sole effect of silencing public debate and of sidelining the opposition by some EU governments and national and/or regional parliaments: the parliaments in Austria, the Netherlands, Wallonia and Brussels region, as well as the French government, have already expressed their negative opinion regarding the EU-Mercosur trade deal.
However, EU Member States can act to prevent the Commissionʼs attempts to violate the safeguards that protect the democratic process in the approval of EU free trade agreements.