Shaking the Institutional Foundations: National Parliamentary Involvement in EU Trade Agreements

Johan Adriaensen, Christine Neuhold

Through the Lisbon treaty, the EU's exclusive competence in trade has been expanded, further limiting the scope for mixety in trade agreements. A declining role for national parliaments in trade policy was expected to ensue as fewer agreements would be subjected to ratification at national level. Contrary to expectations, national parliaments have, however, become more assertive in trade negotiations in recent years. But instead of holding their national government to account or relying on the yellow- and orange card procedures, they have been seeking direct influence at the EU level. This paper studies the origins, motivations and processes that led to national parliaments' institutional activism on CETA and TTIP. It focuses in particular on the letters send by the parliaments to the European Commission to request the agreement to be classified as 'mixed'. Why were the existing procedures considered insufficient and in which alternative ways can national parliaments be more involved? Through document analysis and interviews in Belgium, Netherlands, Sweden and Austria, we seek to provide some answers. The findings will contribute to discussions about the future role of national parliaments, the EU's democratic deficit as well as the future of EU trade policy.

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