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EU Court of Justice to deliberate on Singapore Trade Deal

The European Commission has decided to request an opinion of the EU Court of Justice on the competence to sign and ratify a trade agreement with Singapore. European Union Trade
Commissioner Karel De Gucht said: “I have been saying for months that we need to clarify the interpretation of the Lisbon Treaty as regards trade matters. And this is what I have decided to do now. The Court can solve an ongoing difference of opinion between the Commission and the Council on the interpretation of the Lisbon Treaty, clarify which procedures to follow and increase EU predictability towards our trade partners”.

 The aim of the Commission is to bring clarity which provisions of the Free Trade Agreement with Singapore fall within the EU’s exclusive or shared competence and which remain in the Member States’ remit and require approval by national instances. As next steps, the Commission’s Legal Service will prepare a formal request to the Court with the intention to submit as soon as possible. The European Union and Singapore have concluded their talks on protection of investment on 17 October 2014.

 This completed the negotiations for the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement, after its other parts were initialled already in September 2013. The EU and Singapore have, among other things, agreed on an advanced regulatory framework for many services sectors, including international maritime transport. The result will ensure a level playing field for businesses when active in each other’s market.

 The services chapter also provides for transparency and non-discrimination in licensing and qualification procedures as well as for the future mutual recognition of professional qualifications. An economic analysis prepared by the Chief Economist Unit of DG Trade predicts that EU exports to Singapore could rise by some EUR 1.4 billion (USD 1.76bn) over a 10-year period. Singapore’s exports to the EU could rise by some EUR 3.5 billion, (USD 4.4bn) including exports from the many European companies established in Singapore.

 It should be noted that these figures only provide a conservative estimate of the possible economic gains since it was not possible to precisely quantify the effects of removing non-tariff barriers.

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