Will Ireland have a vote on the Mercosur deal?

Will Ireland have a vote on the Mercosur deal?

It will be two years before the Government knows for sure if Ireland will have a vote on ratification of a final Mercosur agreement.

Heather Humphreys, the minister for business, enterprise and innovation, said last week it is her department’s “understanding” that ratification of the EU-Mercosur agreement will ultimately require the involvement of Dáil Éireann.

But such matters may not become clearer until there is a final text of the agreement, which is about two years away.

What is the usual ratification process for such agreements?

Any international agreement entered into by the EU with a third country or group of third countries may, depending on its content, be concluded as an EU-only agreement (which means without the member states also being parties to that agreement), or as a “mixed” agreement (with both the EU and the member states being parties).

Where an agreement covers only areas where the Union has exclusive competence under the EU treaties, the agreement must be an EU-only agreement.

On the other hand, where an agreement covers areas where competence is shared with the member states (or contains areas of union competence and exclusive member state competence), it will be a “mixed” agreement.

Which will the Mercosur trade agreement be?

In order to determine whether an agreement should be EU-only or “mixed”, it is necessary to examine its contents to see whether it covers areas of EU exclusive competence, or of shared competence, or of member states’ exclusive competence.

In relation to free trade agreements, EU exclusive competence can arise in two ways. Any provisions covering areas such as trade in goods, or sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures, will fall within the EU’s exclusive competence.

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) holds that foreign direct investment, most trade in services, and sustainable development provisions, all fall within the scope of the EU’s exclusive competence.

EU exclusive competence can also arise where provisions of an international agreement would affect the EU’s internal rules or alter their scope. On the other hand, a “mixed” agreement contains aspects where the competence is shared between the union and the member states.

Aspects of “mixed” competence, insofar as trade is concerned, are often provisions concerning investment protection and the EU investment court system.

However, where an agreement also contains provisions which go beyond the broad area of trade and fall within the exclusive competence of the member states (for instance, provisions concerning political co-operation in foreign policy areas) such an agreement would be considered to be “mixed”.

Can Ireland demand voting rights?

When any agreement is finalised, such as with Mercosur, the commission proposes the agreement to the council and in doing so, it indicates to the member states its view on competence and, therefore, ratification.

Nationally, Ireland would then confer with the Office of the Attorney General for their views.

Wasn’t the EU trade agreement with Canada (CETA) applied provisionally?

Yes, the EU Council decided on provisional application of a majority of CETA provisions, except for a few related mainly to investment.

But the commission had decided to present it to the council as a “mixed agreement”, so the council can only finally conclude the agreement after it is ratified by the individual member states.

So far, only about a dozen EU states have ratified CETA. Ireland has yet to ratify it. A “mixed” agreement only enters into force once each individual EU state has approved it in line with its own national procedures.

As this may take several years, the commission can propose that the agreement be applied provisionally in respect of those aspects for which it has exclusive competence, such as trade.

This provisional application requires agreement by the council and ratification by the European Parliament.

It is not possible at this stage to be definitive about what timelines may apply in respect of ratifying the EU-Mercosur agreement, until a final text is available.

However, it is the Government’s understanding that the EU-Mercosur agreement will be a “mixed” agreement, ultimately requiring the involvement of Dáil Eireann in its ratification process.

When will a final text be available?

The text of the EU-Mercosur agreement will now have to proceed to so-called “legal scrubbing”, and translation, a process which can take between several months and up to two years to complete, before a final text is available.

More on this topic

Sir Nick Clegg asked to explain inconsistent Facebook evidenceSir Nick Clegg asked to explain inconsistent Facebook evidence

Cork supermarket recognised for autism awareness initiatives in international awardsCork supermarket recognised for autism awareness initiatives in international awards

From Gallarus to Slane: Dáithí Ó SéFrom Gallarus to Slane: Dáithí Ó Sé

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard forces ‘seize tanker accused of smuggling oil’Iran’s Revolutionary Guard forces ‘seize tanker accused of smuggling oil’

More in this Section

€100m worth of dangerous items in fake foods and drinks seized across Europe€100m worth of dangerous items in fake foods and drinks seized across Europe

Minister opts not to allow August road hedge cuttingMinister opts not to allow August road hedge cutting

European farmer co-ops urge AGRI to conclude CAP talks and oppose negative effects of Mercusor dealEuropean farmer co-ops urge AGRI to conclude CAP talks and oppose negative effects of Mercusor deal

Mushroom composters recognise importance of local straw supply after shortages Mushroom composters recognise importance of local straw supply after shortages


Lifestyle

Whether it’s wearing acid-washed jeans or booty shorts, the model is a denim chameleon.As she lands a big new campaign, here’s why Kendall Jenner is a denim icon

Don’t want to just chuck away all that clutter? Gabrielle Fagan reveals simple ways to get it out of sight.Seek and hide: 6 storage solutions to keep you and your rooms cool and calm this summer

From playsuits to parkas, here’s what to pack, whatever the weather. By Katie Wright.The beginner’s guide to festival fashion

Hate delegating, constantly check emails and scared to take holiday? Being too tied to work could be damaging your wellbeing.Has worrying about work taken over your life? 6 signs that you might have work separation anxiety

More From The Irish Examiner