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The EUís Treaty of Nice and Services Trade Negotiations
Jan 3, 2001

The European Unionís Treaty of Nice extended qualified majority voting decision rules for 29 policy areas including commercial policy and negotiation of trade agreements including services, goods, and intellectual property. The Commission may conduct trade negotiations prior authorization from the EU Council and following the guidelines adopted by a qualified majority of the Council. However, agreements relating to trade in cultural and audiovisual services, educational services, and social and human health services will continue to fall within the shared competence of the Community and its Member States. In practice this means that countries can continue to exercise their veto over agreements concerning this areas, which was a critical concern of French negotiators. The Treaty language still subject to changes is the following:

COMMON COMMERCIAL POLICY
ARTICLE 133 TEC

1. The common commercial policy shall be based on uniform principles, particularly in regard to changes in tariff rates, the conclusion of tariff and trade agreements, the achievement of uniformity in measures of liberalisation, export policy and measures to protect trade such as those to be taken in the event of dumping or subsidies.

2. The Commission shall submit proposals to the Council for implementing the common commercial policy.

3. Where agreements with one or more States or international organisations need to be negotiated, the Commission shall make recommendations to the Council, which shall authorise the Commission to open the necessary negotiations. The Council and the Commission shall be responsible for ensuring that the agreements negotiated are compatible with internal Community policies and rules. The Commission shall conduct these negotiations in consultation with a special committee appointed by the Council to assist the Commission in this task and within the framework of such directives as the Council may issue to it. The Commission shall report regularly to the special committee on the progress of negotiations. The relevant provisions of Article 300 shall apply.

4. In exercising the powers conferred upon it by this Article, the Council shall act by a qualified majority.

5. The provisions of paragraphs 1 to 4 shall also apply to the negotiation and conclusion of agreements relating to trade in services, and the commercial aspects of intellectual property, insofar as they are not covered by those paragraphs and without prejudice to paragraph 6. By way of derogation from paragraph 4, the Council shall act unanimously when negotiating and concluding an agreement in the field referred to in the first subparagraph where that agreement includes provisions for which unanimity is required for the adoption of internal rules or where it relates to a field in which the Community has not yet exercised the powers conferred upon it by the Treaty by adopting internal rules. The Council shall act unanimously with respect to the negotiation and conclusion of a horizontal agreement insofar as it is also covered by the preceding subparagraph or paragraph 6.The provisions of this paragraph shall not affect the right of the Member States to maintain and conclude agreements with third countries or international organisations insofar as such agreements respect Community law and other relevant international agreements.

6. An agreement may not be concluded by the Council if it includes provisions which would go beyond the Community's internal powers, in particular by leading to harmonisation of the laws or regulations of the Member States in an area for which the Treaty rules out such harmonisation. In this connection, by way of derogation from the first subparagraph of paragraph 5, agreements relating to trade in cultural and audiovisual services, educational services, and social and human health services, shall continue to fall within the shared competence of the Community and its Member States. Consequently, in addition to a Community decision taken in accordance with the relevant provisions of Article 300, the negotiation of such agreements shall require the common accord of the Member States. Agreements thus negotiated shall be concluded jointly by the Community and the Member States. The negotiation and conclusion of international agreements in the field of transport shall continue to be governed by the provisions of Title V and Article 300. 7. Without prejudice to the first subparagraph of paragraph 6, the Council, acting unanimously on a proposal from the Commission and after consulting the European Parliament, may extend the application of paragraphs 1 to 4 to international negotiations and agreements on intellectual property insofar as they are not covered by paragraph 5.

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