Of course, this clear division does not mean that the ratification of free trade agreements lacks democratic legitimacy. Responsibility for trade policy rests with the EU; since the Lisbon Treaty, trade agreements must be ratified by the European Parliament. Nevertheless, Member States` parliaments should be informed in a timely and comprehensive manner of negotiations on free trade agreements in order to allow for a well-informed public debate. A transparent negotiation process also includes the publication of the European Commission`s negotiating mandates. Negotiations for a free trade agreement between the EU and several ASEAN countries (the association of Southeast Asian nations) are of economic importance to Germany. The ASEAN region is experiencing dynamic growth and there is great potential for economic cooperation with Europe. The EU is currently negotiating with some ASEAN members, while initial negotiations with the whole region have not yielded concrete results. The central pillar of rules-based and open trade should always be the WTO. This is the first and best way to open markets around the world and establish new rules for trade.
However, free trade agreements can be – and have been for years – a useful complement to the multilateral trade order. In the context of the WTO crisis, these agreements are increasingly economically and politically relevant, which is essential for the EU`s foreign trade policy. The EU is accompanied by representatives from 13 non-EU countries. The first round of negotiations took place in Geneva in July 2014. After 17 rounds of negotiations, the agreement is expected to be concluded by the end of 2016. For more information on the proposed agreement, please visit the European Commission`s website. The EU has free trade agreements with countries around the world. Beyond the usual chapter of preferential tariff treatment, these agreements often contain trade facilitation and agreement clauses in areas such as investment, intellectual property, public procurement, technical standards, and health and plant health issues.