Negotiating free trade agreements is far from easy. Due to the complexity of modern free trade agreements, negotiations can take years. At the end of June 2019, about 20 years after the start of the negotiations, the European Commission reached an agreement in principle on the free trade agreement with the Mercosur countries. Months of work must be invested in the details before the agreement is ready to be signed. Legislators do not expect the agreement to be tabled until the second half of 2020. The fourth EU Implementation Report (other languages), published in November 2020 and preceded by the preface by DG Commerce Director-General Sabine Weyand (other languages), provides an overview of the results achieved in 2019 and the remarkable work for the EU`s 36 main preferential trade agreements. The accompanying staff working document provides detailed information in accordance with the trade agreement and trading partners. The judgment of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on the free trade agreement with Singapore in May 2017 clarified the areas of a free trade agreement under the exclusive competence of the EU and the elements that require ratification at Member State level. This important decision will clarify future negotiations for a free trade agreement. Before the ruling, all free trade agreements were always ratified by both the EU and the respective national parliaments of the Member States.
Since the ruling, authorisation within the Member States is only required if certain parts of the agreement fall within the shared jurisdiction. In Germany, for example, the Bundestag and, if necessary, the Federal Assembly as a whole would vote on the agreement. In May 2019, the ECJ also found that the newly designed investment judicial system, integrated into CETA, was compatible with European law. This question was ambiguous. EFTA was historically one of the two dominant trading blocs in Western Europe, but it is now much smaller and closely linked to its historical competitor, the European Union. It was created on 3 May 1960 as an alternative trading bloc for European states that were unable or unable to join the European Economic Community (EEC), then the EU`s main predecessor. The Stockholm Agreement (1960 establishing EFTA) was signed on 4 January 1960 in the Swedish capital by seven countries (known as the “Seven Outsiders”: Austria, Denmark, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom).  A revised agreement, the Vaduz Convention, was signed on 21 June 2001 and came into force on 1 June 2002.  In some circumstances, trade negotiations have been concluded with a trading partner, but have not yet been signed or ratified.Originally published on April 15, 2021