Trade Relevant Provisions in the Treaty of Lisbon: Implications for Economic Partnership Agreements


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    The entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon on 1 December 2009 introduced significant changes in the functioning of the European Union (EU) and its relationship with the rest of the world. The enlarged objectives that are attributed to EU external action under the Lisbon Treaty correspond to a widening EU foreign policy agenda.

    The Treaty modifies the EU rule-setting for the conduct of its trade policy and notably elevates the objective of trade integration to the level of an overarching objective of the EU’s external action. Furthermore, it increases the competences of the European Union on services and investment and the role of the European Parliament (EP).

    Key Purpose of ECDPM Study

    This paper highlights the main changes introduced by the Lisbon Treaty that may impact on EU trade and development policy and considers the effects these may have on the EPA process with the African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. The paper provides an overview of key relevant aspects of the Lisbon Treaty, the new EU trade policy setting and its implications for the EPA process, and a number of other policy areas (EU external action, development cooperation, migration) that may also affect EPAs.

    Key Findings of ECDPM

    • The Treaty of Lisbon is not expected to have any major impact on the negotiations and conclusions of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs), at least in the short to medium term.

    • The number of EU interlocutors for the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group has increased with the ToL, adding the new diplomatic service and a more influential EP. This, together with new decision-making rules in the European Union (EU) will result in more complex political processes. This development offers new opportunities for engagement, yet also challenges.

    • The new role of the EP, which is likely to be more involved throughout the negotiation process for trade agreements and has gained legislative power in the Common Commercial Policy, is expected to be the main implication of the ToL for international trade partners in the medium and longer term.

    • The expansion of exclusive EU competence to encompass services and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) will have implications for the capacity of the European Commission (EC) to negotiate trade and investment agreements with third countries. 

    • The outcome on the functioning of the EU will to a great extent depend on what the EU actors and their international partners, such as ACP countries in the context of the EPAs, make of the opportunities the Treaty offers.
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