How democratic are EU trade negotiations?

How democratic are EU trade negotiations?

Trade talks only begin after studies and widespread consultation with stakeholders show a deal would be beneficial and after the governments of the EU’s member countries have agreed to launch negotiations. The EU’s member countries give the European Commission a mandate to negotiate, setting out what they want it to achieve on their behalf.

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The European Commission leads the talks and updates EU member countries and the European Parliament regularly throughout. Businesses of all sizes, unions, and consumer and environmental organisations provide constant input. These groups also analyse the findings of an independent sustainable impact assessment, which is reflected in the EU’s negotiating position.

After hearing concerns that trade talks were too opaque, the Commission began publishing its reports and negotiating positions online. Similarly, anyone can look up who has had a meeting with EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström and her advisers.

Once an agreement is reached, the EU’s member states (meeting in the European Council) and Parliament must give their approval. If an agreement covers policy areas that are the competence of EU member countries then national parliaments must also ratify it.

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