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The role of treaty committees in CETA and other recent EU free trade agreements

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Foodwatch | 4 November 2019

The role of treaty committees in CETA and other recent EU free trade agreements

by Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Weiß, Chair of Public Law, University Speyer, on behalf of foodwatch

Questions and answers:

1. What role do the Treaty Committees play in CETA? Why do these committees exist at all and have they always existed in this meaning at free trade agreements?

The Treaty Committees in the EU-Canada free trade agreement (CETA) are decision- making bodies consisting of representatives of the contracting parties, usually representatives of Canada and of the EU Commission. With their decisions, the Treaty Committees are to further develop, supplement or implement the Treaty. The mandate of the CETA Joint Committee is very broad: "The CETA Joint Committee is responsible for all questions concerning trade and investment between the Parties and the implementation and application of this Agreement" (Art. 26.1 para. 3). The fact that the mandate goes beyond application and implementation is demonstrated by the listing of its tasks in Art. 26.1 para. 4. The special committees also have decision-making powers (Art. 26.2 para. 4 at the end). There have long been decision-making treaty bodies in EU trade or association agreements. The best known is probably the Association Council in the Association Agreement between the EU and Turkey, which stipulates, for example, the access of Turkish workers to the labour market in the EU. Whereas in the past, however, decision-making powers were only laid down very sporadically in the agreements, and these powers were laid down in great detail, the use of these decision- making bodies in the new generation of free trade agreements has expanded considerably. In concrete terms, this means that in the agreements, starting with the CETA agreement, a large number of Treaty Committees are set up (in CETA a total of 10), whose tasks are sometimes very far-reaching and which are also authorised to take binding decisions that go beyond the mere application of CETA rules, but concern decisions on important issues or represent the adoption of general rules. CETA and the newer Free Trade Agreements thus not only deploy many more of these bodies, but also give them much more numerous and comprehensive powers. The Treaty Committees have about 30 different decision-making powers. These Treaty Committees thus represent a new level of sovereignty. The free trade agreements delegate regulatory tasks to them.

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 source: Foodwatch