Mixity after Opinion 2/15: Judicial Confusion over Shared Competences

In its momentous opinion about the Singapore free trade agreement, the ECJ seemed to have eliminated the option of ‘facultative’ EU-only agreements which do not embrace ISDS. It seems to me that this overlooks an important novelty of Opinion 2/15, which gave explicit judicial blessing to the option of ‘facultative’ EU-only agreements, although the Court hides the innovation behind an inconsistent use of the notion of ‘shared’ powers.

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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.

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The Singapore Silver Bullet

Is the CJEU’s Opinion on the Singapore free trade agreement a boost for Brexit? After reading the Opinion my feeling is exactly the opposite. The Court has made a clever juggling exercise with Christmas presents for everybody. But in fact, the Court has saved the best Christmas present for itself. And there are hardly any gifts for Britain. In fact, the Opinion contains a paragraph that could blow up the entire Brexit process.

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Brexit Lawsuits, But Not As You Know Them 

Calling in the lawyers is becoming a frequent response to the challenges of Brexit. While court actions on matters of constitutional law are well known, there is another, less publicised, avenue of legal resistance. The consequence: the Brexit bill is about to become a lot bigger.

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Sailing uncharted waters – for how long? On transitional post-Brexit trade arrangements

Given the short timeframe for negotiating an exit agreement, the UK and the EU-27 may not be able to agree on new terms for their future trade relations before the UK’s formal exit from the EU takes effect. Consequently, many experts are pushing for a transitional arrangement.

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Brexit and the Single Market: You say Article 50, we say Article 127?

Hard on the heels of the Article 50 case heard last week by the UK Supreme Court, comes the announcement of another challenge to the UK Government’s Brexit plans, this time based on Article 127 of the EEA agreement. Much like Article 50 TEU, that provision allows contracting parties to the EEA agreement to withdraw from it. The claimants in the Article 127 challenge contend that withdrawal from the EU under Article 50 will not lead to withdrawal from the EEA, given that with Article 127 the EEA agreement contains its own termination clause. Hence their argument goes that unless the Government also triggers Article 127, the UK will stay in the EEA even after Brexit; and that would mean that the UK would remain in the single market. Much like the Article 50 case, the impending court case therefore seeks a declaration by the High Court that the Government cannot trigger Article 127 without prior approval of Parliament. The claimants’ hope is that while Parliament may feel politically bound by the EU referendum result to allow the Government to leave the EU, it may not vote in favour of leaving the EEA, viz. the single market, as this was not a question on the ballot paper. It is the aim of this blogpost to identify the three main hurdles the claimants are likely to be facing and discuss whether these can be overcome.

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Shared powers: the elephant in the room in the division of powers-debate

The saga surrounding the signing of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) has again brought the issue of the division of foreign affairs powers between the EU and its Member States to the centre of attention of many an EU lawyer. How far do the EU’s exclusive powers to conduct a ‘common commercial policy’ reach? Do implied powers supplement the EU’s express exclusive powers in this area? Is it appropriate to apply a so-called ‘centre of gravity’ test when assessing the vires of a particular EU action on the international scene, or should a piecemeal approach be followed, whereby the inclusion of a single provision that reaches beyond the scope of the EU’s exclusive powers requires a proposed international agreement to be adopted as a ‘mixed’ agreement?

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Blowin’ against the Wind: the Future of EU trade Policy

U.S. President-elect Trump has announced his intention to stop the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement. In the EU too the wind seems to be blowing in a similar direction. There appears to be a widespread and growing anti-free-trade sentiment in some parts of the population. Should the EU, at this moment in time, continue to pursue a free trade agenda? If so, does the EU have the means to do that effectively?

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European vetocracy? How to overcome the Wallonian CETA problem

Democracy is not the issue here. Rather, the CETA/Wallonia issue is a vivid demonstration of overfederalization that leaves not only Belgium but the entire European Union unable to act. As an ultima ratio, one option remains: Why not simply close the agreement without Belgium?

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Ganz Gallien? Fehlschlüsse aus dem wallonischen CETA-Veto

Wallonien lässt die westliche Welt zappeln – und wird dafür je nach politischem Standpunkt des Betrachters als einzig aufrechtes gallisches Dorf besungen oder als eigennützige Erpresserbande geschmäht. Stutzig macht jedoch die prompte Reaktion, man hätte CETA besser doch nicht als „gemischtes Abkommen“ einstufen sollen, sondern als Abkommen zwischen der EU und Kanada ohne direkte Beteiligung der Mitgliedstaaten. Diese Reaktion zeugt von Demokratieverachtung.

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