Written by Clare Ferguson,
The European Union conducts and concludes trade agreements with partners on every continent, and is modernising some of the older agreements, dating back as far as the 1970s, to reflect the EU’s new trade competences acquired with the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty.
Article 12 of the Vienna Convention lays out the circumstances under which ‘consent of a State to be bound by a treaty is expressed by the signature of its representative’. Ratification of international agreements by EU Member States became a particularly hot topic in 2016, with the progress, or lack thereof, on negotiations of several international trade agreements, and the process for approving them coming under discussion.
Because the principles followed for ratification are very different according to the Member State concerned, the involvement of different levels of national and regional government can vary, as was the case with the Canada-EU Trade Agreement. An agreement is currently under negotiation with Japan. However, there are some uncertainties on the horizon, notably the future of the EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) once the new US President comes into office in 2017.