However, negotiations on free trade agreements have become increasingly controversial in the general public. The transatlantic trade and investment partnership (TTIP) negotiations, the EU-US free trade agreement, are an example. Negotiations on the EU-Canada Free Trade Agreement (CETA) have also been controversial. Months of bitter struggle by political actors have seriously questioned the effectiveness and reliability of European trade policy decision-making and have undermined the EU`s international credibility and effectiveness. The European Court of Justice has ruled that the provisions relating to arbitration between the investor state (including a special tribunal under some free trade agreements) fall within the shared jurisdiction between the European Union and its Member States and that, for this reason, their ratification should be authorised by both the EU and each of the 28 Member States. [82] The EU has free trade agreements with 37 partners that have entered into full force, including with South Korea, Japan and Singapore, as well as free trade agreements with 43 partners, such as Canada and Ukraine, which are provisionally implemented. In May, the EU and Mexico also reached an agreement on modernising the existing agreement. Negotiations for new free trade agreements are underway with 19 countries, including Australia and New Zealand. 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 European Commission reports annually on the implementation of its main trade agreements in the previous calendar year. 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. 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. One study showed that eu trade agreements implemented during the 1993-2013 period «reduced quality-adjusted prices by almost 7%.» [83] In some circumstances, trade negotiations have been concluded with a trading partner, but have not yet been signed or ratified.