The rules for ratifying EU trade treaties depend on what's in them. There are two categories known as "EU-only" and respectively "mixed" treaties, roughly discriminated along the lines in the following table:

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As examples, the EU-Canada (CETA) agreement is a "mixed" one, whereas the EU-Japan treaty is "EU-only". "Mixed" EU trade treaties require ratification by national parliaments of EU member countries (as well as both regional parliaments of Belgium), whereas the "EU-only" ones do not.

By all accounts, the EU-UK treaty will not require ratification by the national parliaments of EU member countries.

On the other hand, Reuters says e.g.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday had described the last-minute agreement as a “jumbo” free trade deal along the lines of that between the EU and Canada, and urged Britain to move on from the divisions caused by the 2016 Brexit referendum.

The BBC report added that at first look, the full post-Brexit text went beyond a so-called “Canada-style” deal.

So, in what sense does the EU-UK trade treaty go beyond a Canada-style deal, while not becoming a mixed treaty (that requires ratification by national parliaments under EU law)?

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    There are three regions and three communities in Belgium but in fact even more so-called “entities” that might have to approve a mixed treaty: the Wallon and Brussels parliaments (regions), the Flemish parliament (region + community), the German and French communities parliaments and the COCOF (which is part of the French community but autonomous) and the COCOM (a compromise institution that is really hard to describe in a short comment).
    – Relaxed
    Dec 26, 2020 at 23:20

1 Answer 1


According to Irish Times:

The overall agreement largely concerns issues that are shared EU powers like trade, but it does include some aspects that involve a mix of national and EU powers. Technically, this should mean that it requires ratification in national parliaments. However, national governments have the power to waive this requirement, and the Commission will propose that they do.
Westminster is due to hold a vote on whether to ratify the deal on December 30th. It is too late for the deal to be voted on by the European Parliament before it is due to come into force on January 1st. National governments are therefore likely to choose to apply it provisionally – a decision they can take unanimously by written agreement.

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    Weird, I cannot find mention of this waiver power in any EU documents... Look at europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/BRIE/2016/593513/… for instance. Dec 27, 2020 at 3:39
  • What Irish Times says basically is that executives in all those countries can waive their (national) constitutions [in this regard], which is probably incorrect. It is somewhat true in some of the countries, but not all. Dec 27, 2020 at 3:45
  • However what happened with CETA was that the Commission initially declared it to be EU-only and only reversed its position (and conceded it was mixed) after some states objected. I guess the same might happen here, i.e. the Commission will declared this treaty EU-only and hope nobody objects.... Dec 27, 2020 at 3:49
  • I guess this is what the paper I got that table from means by the more recent EU-Singapore CJEU decision "does not rule out that mixity can be in certain circumstances a political choice". Dec 27, 2020 at 3:53

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