The European Commission may divide its agreement with Mercosur in two parts to ensure Ireland cannot block it. International agreements covering only trade issues, such as tariffs and import quotas, are under the control of the European Commission. Brussels sources say that in this case, the council of trade ministers sent by each EU country can approve a deal by qualified majority vote, with no individual veto. The European Parliament votes its “consent,” without a full debate.

When the EU secures a deal including other political aspects, it becomes a “mixed” or “association” agreement. This must secure unanimous approval by the council of ministers. Then the European Parliament and each national parliament, including the Oireachtas, must debate and approve the agreement.