Bulgarian President Roumen Radev said on July 18 that he asked the country’s Constitutional Court to issue a binding interpretation of constitutional provisions in relation to the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the European Union and Canada.
“CETA affects practically every sphere of public life, which requires that citizens and institutions have a clear picture about the nature of such agreements and their place in the Bulgarian constitutional model. The ratification of such agreements, which define the long-term development of the country, must be done with maximum consensus,” the presidency said in a statement.
Specifically, the constitutional provisions that Radev asked the court to issue a binding interpretation about include articles on the ratification and application of international treaties, the article about Bulgaria’s participation in the EU and articles concerning the economic development of the country.
Although the presidency’s statement did not offer any specific criticism of the trade deal, which was approved by the Bulgarian government in October 2016 and ratified at EU level in February, Radev has opposed the deal in the past, including during his election campaign last year, when he first raised the prospect of a challenge at the Constitutional Court.
Domestically, the trade agreement is also opposed by the Bulgarian Socialist Party, the largest opposition party, which backed Radev in last year’s elections. In March, two weeks before snap parliamentary polls, Socialist leader Kornelia Ninova was quoted as saying that the party would block CETA’s ratification when it won the elections (BSP came in second.)
Instead of focusing on any potential negatives to Bulgaria’s economy from CETA, the presidency’s statement instead said that the “binding interpretation of these [constitutional] provisions is important for the country’s legal system and Bulgaria’s participation in the construction and development of the EU.”
The statement went on to say that a clearer interpretation of those constitutional articles would be of importance in the future, concerning “the signing of similar agreements relating to our membership in the EU.”
(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)