19 November 2014

UPDATE - The Gaborone amendment: where is the EU in its internal procedure to accede CITES?

As expected there were no discussions or real exchange of opinions during the session of the ENVI Committee of 5/11. All political groups acnkowledged the importance of the EU acceeding the CITES Convention. As  MEP Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy put it, it is important to avoid the endless EU negotiations during the COPs. With the accession, the European Union will be able to speak with one voice when it casts its 28 votes at least when the EU acquis is affected.

And this is why it is so important to define what are the legal basis for this accession: is it only Article 192 of the Treaty of the Functioning of the EU (TFEU) devoted to environment or should it also be combined with Article 207 on the Common Comercial Policy? After all, CITES is a trade agreement...

It is worth remembering that:

The European Union has exclusive competence with regard to measures concerning the Customs Union between its Member States and with regard to its common commercial policy. 

 as the European Commission stated in an annex to the proposal. It comes as no surprise that the Council, where the 28 Member States are represented, showed no appreciation for this very true statement, and decided to delete it in the text that was sent to the Parliament for consent. I guess no Member State wants to see the European Commission taking decisions unilaterally during COPs on matters that could affect their own commercial policies for  certain species like the blue fin tuna or whales...

However, the Parliament's Committee on Legal Affairs recommended both articles as legal basis. Moreover, during the ENVI Committee meeting on 5 November, the rapporteur, Pilar Ayuso, supported the double legal base.

What do we know today? That the ENVI Committee voted on that day, pressumibly in a positive sense, and that two days ago the final report was tabled for the Plenary meeting of the EP to cast a final vote foreseen for the 16 December.

Many questions still remain: what does the final report contain? Will the EP insist in the double legal basis? Will this change the way the EU has been behaving so far during COPs? If so, how? What role for the European Commission?

I guess the best way to finish this post is to say: TO BE CONTINUED.....

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