A contentious EU-Canada trade agreement is at risk of becoming bogged down in a spat between EU capitals and Brussels over whether national parliaments should get to ratify the deal.
The European Commission has waded into sensitive political territory by suggesting that, legally, the wide-ranging accord could simply be approved by national trade ministers and by the European Parliament to take effect.
While EU leaders are highly supportive of the trade deal, known as CETA, the commission’s push for a streamlined adoption has raised the prospect of an ugly power struggle even as the bloc seeks to cope with the trauma of Britain’s vote last month to leave the EU.
At stake is whether a total of 38 different national parliamentary chambers, including in some cases regional assemblies, should have a binding say. In addition to the commission’s belief that this is not required under the EU’s treaties, a pressing political concern is that it could be the death knell of a deal that took five years to negotiate.
The outcome of the tussle could also have implications for how complicated it will be for post-Brexit Britain to negotiate a trade deal with the EU.
That is from Jim Brundsen and Duncan Robinson at the FT. And Canadian exports are far more resource-intensive, and less services-intensive, which ought to make that free trade agreement especially easy.
I’ve seen various articles suggesting Britain has only about twenty trade negotiators and the country will look to New Zealand (!) to borrow expertise in this area. In other words it will rely on immigrants of a sort. What does that tell you about the level of preparation?
Wolfgang Munchnau on Twitter suggests that Tory leaders can deliver and support only hard forms of Brexit, without EEA or a real trade agreement. The French are talking about no longer spending the money to cut off migrants in Calais and instead letting them cross the channel so the British can deal with it themselves.
People, this already isn’t going well!