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Birmingham academic Luca Rubini is among the signatories of the declaration TRADING TOGETHER - For Strong and Democratically Legitimized EU International Agreements.

For some, the way the EU signed the CETA Agreement with Canada heralded a new era. Involving national and regional parliaments at the very end of the process was seen as enhancing democratic control. Some academics have also lent support to this view (see for example the Namur Declaration, signed by 40 academics, including the Prime Minister of Wallonia, Paul Magnette).

In the ‘Trading Together’ declaration over 60 European academics - from more than 15 European countries -  set out their belief that a more critical reflection is needed on what an effective and democratic decision-making process in the EU requires.

It is not sufficiently recognized that most of what is done in ‘Brussels’, also in international negotiations, is actually decided by the Member States. National parliaments should hold their national governments much more to account for the positions they take in the EU Council of Ministers. In addition, the European Parliament exercises direct control over the Council. When properly implemented, Europe has a unique decision-making process ensuring democratic legitimacy at multiple levels (going beyond any other country). It is unfortunate that this system is threatened by attempts to renationalize EU-policies. These attempts also undermine the role of the European Parliament and weaken the position of the EU in international relations. 

The signatories of the Declaration ‘Trading Together’ develop five proposals to make the EU stronger, less complex, with more effective democratic control, and better access for its citizens. On 25 January 2017 this Declaration was handed over to the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Maltese Presidency of the Council.