Differing opinions over the functions and powers of the legislature to deliberate a cross-strait economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) expected to be signed today have emerged between Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators as well as the heads of the executive and legislative branches.
An official from the Executive Yuan said on condition of anonymity yesterday that the Executive Yuan did not agree with Legislative Speaker Wang Jyn-ping (王金平), who maintains that a “cross-strait ECFA is not tantamount to a treaty.”
Elaborating on remarks previously made by Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) that a “cross-strait ECFA is more like a treaty,” the official said the legislature “can only vote to ratify or reject the ECFA, not amend its contents article by article.”
Wang based his position on the legislature's Organic Laws and Statutes Bureau, which stated than an agreement signed between Taiwan and China is not construed as a treaty by the Constitution, according to the Council of Grand Justices' Constitutional Interpretation No. 329 of 1993.
The constitutional interpretation clarifies what constitutes a treaty and the types of international agreements that should be sent to the legislature for deliberation.
Bureau Deputy Director Tseng Ming-fa (曾明發) said that “it's clear that the grand justices do not classify cross-strait deals as treaties as they said in the [constitutional] interpretation that it does not cover cross-strait deals.”
In view of this interpretation, it would be questionable if the legislature followed precedents set when it ratified free-trade agreements Taiwan signed with allied countries to deliberate an ECFA, Tseng said.
Given the uniqueness of the present case, Wang said that controversies related to the review process would be settled via negotiations among concerned parties before the ECFA is deliberated in the legislature's extra session early next month.
DPP caucus whip Pan Meng-an (潘孟安) said that while the party agreed more with Wang than Wu, the legislature was entitled by the Act Governing Legislature's Exercise of Power (立法院職權行使法) to review the ECFA's contents article by article.
“When there is lack of precedent, we shall abide by the Act,” Pan said.
An ECFA is not a treaty because it was not signed by the governments of Taiwan and China, but by the Straits Exchange Foundation and the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait, the two non-official agencies representing the two countries, Pan said.