Commission postpones mandate for Australia and New Zealand trade talks

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Politico | 11 July 2017

Commission postpones mandate for Australia and New Zealand trade talks

By Hans von der Burchard

The European Commission has postponed the release of its proposals for trade talks with Australia and New Zealand to the fall, a senior official told the European Parliament’s trade committee today.

The announcement by Peter Berz, head of the Commission’s trade unit on Southeast Asia and the Pacific, backtracks on previous Commission announcements that the proposals would come before the summer break.

It is the Commission’s task to propose trade mandates to EU governments, which can then amend and approve them to start negotiations.

In his remarks to the Parliament, Berz linked the delay to a recent European Court of Justice judgment that allows Brussels to fast-track the ratification of EU trade deals if they don’t include a chapter on investment protection.

While Berz did not comment on whether the Australia and New Zealand trade mandate would separate out the investment chapter, diplomats told POLITICO that the Commission plans to formally endorse a split approach in the fall, and that the proposal will be made after the German federal election on September 24.

The Commission’s Vice-President Jyrki Katainen said Monday he is in favor of splitting trade deals to allow swift adoption.

The Parliament’s rapporteur on Australia and New Zealand trade relations, Daniel Caspary, told POLITICO that “it is clear to the Commission that many in the Parliament, including the European People’s Party — the biggest political group — will not accept a negotiation mandate that falls short of such a split.”

Caspary also said he expects the mandates to be presented in September.

source: Politico