Draft Opinion on the Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the safeguard measures provided for in the Agreement between the European Economic Community and the Republic of Iceland (codification)
International trade is governed by a complex mixture of global rules agreed under World Trade Organization and bilateral and multilateral agreements. The free trade agreements are having a growing impact on citizens' rights. Under the Lisbon Treaty, EU trade policy must be conducted within the framework of the principles and objectives of the Union’s external action, including promotion of the rule of law, human rights and sustainable development.
We believe that this trend should be a guiding principle in EU trade negotiations and in trade relations. The fact that we at the EESC reconcile the positions and views of business, workers, professionals, farmers, consumers and other important stakeholders contributes real added value. We are in a position to efficiently relay the opinions of civil society and interest groups to international policy-makers both during negotiations and in the implementation of trade agreements. We have set up a Follow-up Committee on International trade to ensure that civil society has a say in the shaping of EU trade policy. We are also managing the Domestic Advisory groups set up under the trade and sustainable development chapters of the EU "new generation" trade agreements. These groups, composed of civil society representatives (from inside and outside the EESC) are responsible for identifying trade and sustainable development-related problems in the implementation of a trade agreement.
The EESC opinion will be dedicated to standalone investment agreements, with a particular emphasis on issues related to sustainable development and civil society involvement. It will contribute to the on-going discussion on the content and level of ambition of sustainable development chapters in the EU standalone investment agreements, as well as on civil society role in the course of negotiations and at the implementation stage.
The main goal of the opinion is to provide a good and qualitative source of information and opinion in the beginning of TTIP negotiations process.
The opinion will be making recommendations where weaknesses become apparent. Since the EESC proposed this opinion the European Commission has also announced a public hearing on potential EU initiative for responsible sourcing of minerals coming from conflict-affected and high-risk areas – war zones, post-war zones, and areas vulnerable to political instability or civil unrest. The opinion on essential imports could include the EESC contribution to this initiative.
The opinion will seek to examine how trade relations with the region can best be developed by means of a first example country, which is Morocco. Trade relations with Morocco stand out as a priority because the EU currently has the closest trade links with Morocco of all the countries in the region.
• The EESC acknowledges the quality of civil society's contribution prior to publication of the communication, as well as the efforts made by the Commission to implement the trade-related aspects of the Agenda for Change. It also welcomes the attention given to the evaluation of trade policies in this communication.
• The EESC regrets that this new communication heralds no significant change to EU policy on the link between trade and development policies.
• The EESC reiterates its recommendation to incorporate sustainable development provisions into free-trade agreements and to provide for procedures enabling ex post analysis of these agreements by the EESC.
• The EESC recalls the importance of producing sui generis development strategies that combine domestic and trade policies with a view to sustainable and inclusive growth.