Now we may ask what the Earl of Dartmouth knows about the EU.
On 14 December 2010 William (The Earl of) Dartmouth, member of the European Parliament (MEP), presented a question for a written answer to the Commission (E-010415/2010):
Does the EU have a trade agreement or agreements with Liechtenstein? If so, what is/are the principal terms?
In the context of the European Union and its common commercial policy, trade is usually understood as relations with third countries. (Cf. Articles 206-207 TFEU)
However, Liechtenstein has joined the internal market through the European Economic Area (EEA) together with Iceland and Norway.
In addition to my series of blog posts, the EU relations with Liechtenstein are outlined in the recent GAC conclusions:
Council conclusions on EU relations with EFTA countries; 3060th GENERAL AFFAIRS Council meeting Brussels, 14 December 2010
The Committee on International Trade (INTA) of the European Parliament is presented as responsible for:
matters relating to the establishment and implementation of the Union's common commercial policy and its external economic relations, in particular:
1. financial, economic and trade relations with third countries and regional organisations;
2. measures of technical harmonisation or standardisation in fields covered by instruments of international law;
3. relations with the relevant international organisations and with organisations promoting regional economic and commercial integration outside the Union;
4. relations with the WTO, including its parliamentary dimension.
The committee liaises with the relevant interparliamentary and ad hoc delegations for the economic and trade aspects of relations with third countries.
The Earl of Dartmouth
William (The Earl of) Dartmouth is a member of the EP Committee on International Trade, where he represents the Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EFD) group, an assortment of nine nationalist parties. He was elected an MEP as a candidate for the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP).
I would expect MEPs in general and members of the expert Committee on International Trade in particular to know that Liechtenstein has joined the internal market through the EEA (in 1994).
I would not employ the term 'trade' regarding Liechtenstein in the way we do when speaking about economic relations with third countries (outside the single market).
The international agreements between the European Union and any country are just a few mouseclicks away at the Treaties Office database.
Therefore the parliamentary question about one or more EU trade agreements with Liechtenstein makes me wonder if it is is based on ignorance or laziness, or if there are profound reasons for such a query I have failed to understand.
I hope that William (The Earl of) Dartmouth would be kind enough to explain how his parliamentary question makes sense.
P.S. What a sad Christmas AFP reports from Minsk: Belarussian police launched sweeping raids on opposition homes and offices as part of its crackdown on protests following Alexander Lukashenko's reelection, rights groups said.