Page last updated at 20:41 GMT, Monday, 10 December 2012

Laws on EU trade agreements

MEPs have welcomed a series of changes to the laws governing investment agreements between individual EU countries and non-EU countries.

The debate on 10 December 2012 focused on changes that result from the 2009 Lisbon Treaty, which gave the EU exclusive competence over foreign investment.

The European Commission has put forward new laws to ensure that existing agreements negotiated by individual member states before the Lisbon Treaty are not legally challenged, to maintain the confidence of investors.

The proposals will force all EU countries to notify the Commission of any agreements they wish to maintain that were concluded before the Lisbon Treaty and will give the Commission the power to review all bilateral agreements to ensure they are in compliance with EU law.

At first reading stage MEPs failed to reach agreement with the Council of Ministers - which represents EU member states - over the implementation of the proposals.

Speaking during the second reading debate, the chair of the European Parliament's International Trade Committee, Vital Moreira, said there was an urgent need for a "smooth transition from one legal system to another".

The Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht admitted the laws covered complex issues, and said it was a "remarkable achievement" for the Parliament and member states to have finally reached agreement.

The proposals were approved on during the daily voting session on 11 December 2012.

Useful links:

Democracy Live's guide to how the plenary sessions work.

A disclaimer on the use of simultaneous interpretations, on the European Parliament's website.

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