BRUSSELS: The top EU court ruled on Tuesday (May 16) that a free trade agreement between the European Union and Singapore cannot fully enter force until ratified by all EU countries, in a legal opinion that could slow down other planned EU trade deals.
The European Union hopes to seal trade agreements with Japan, Mexico and the Mercosur quartet of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay and crucially will also have to forge a trade deal with post-Brexit Britain in the coming years.
The European Commission and Singapore completed negotiations on a trade deal in October 2014.
The Commission, which negotiates trade deals on behalf of the EU's 28 members, has previously argued that trade is an exclusive EU competence, meaning an agreement would not have to wait for years and risk being blocked during ratification by all the members.
Such deals would still need clearance by the EU Council, the grouping of EU governments, and the European Parliament.
An EU-Canada deal is set to enter force provisionally in the coming weeks after facing waves of protest from labour unions and environmental groups. It was nearly scuppered by a Belgian region and still needs clearance by national and regional parliaments in the coming years to fully enter force.