During the meeting, the representative of the European External Action Service (EEAS) presented information about the EU relations and cooperation with Central America. Based on the Second Annual Report, the Commission representative provided information about the implementation of the trade pillar of the Association Agreement, changes in trade flows and work of joint bodies established by the Agreement. The EU Advisory Group discussed also preparations for the next meeting with Central America under the Trade and Sustainable Development Title, as well as the ways to better communicate its activities to the Central American partners and other relevant stakeholders.
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.
In view of the ongoing TTIP negotiations, the EESC is organising a seminar, whose main purpose will be to be to assess the need for an energy chapter in the TTIP, in particular after the lifting of the US restrictions on crude oil exports and the impact that such a chapter might have on trade of energy goods and services, and on environmental and energy policies both in the EU and the US. Main topics: a) the impact of TTIP on the EU energy market and security of energy supplies; b) the possibility to foster a more transparent, predictable, open and non-discriminatory framework for traders and investors in energy and raw materials, by improving transparency and competition in the energy sector; c) an energy chapter in TTIP as a model to shape energy relations with other countries; d) the impact on trade in environmental goods, renewable energy and energy efficiency, aiming at contributing to the achievement of SDGs and climate change targets.
The 2nd meeting of the EU-Ukraine Civil Society Platform took place on 11 February 2016 in EESC premises in Brussels. During the meeting, a debate was held assessing the state of play in the implementation of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, and two reports, prepared by both sides, were discussed and adopted – on energy policy and on the rule of law, with a focus on fight against corruption. A Joint Declaration was adopted at the end of the meeting to be forwarded to the EU-Ukraine Association Council, the Association Committee, the Parliamentary Association Committee and other relevant bodies both in Ukraine as well as in the EU.
During the meeting, the EEAS representative presented information about the EU relations with the Republic of Korea. The European Commission updated participants on the implementation of the EU-Korea FTA and its trade and sustainable development chapter. It also presented the state of play and the next steps in the ex-post evaluation of the agreement as well as the preparation of joint projects with Korea. The EU DAG also had the opportunity to discuss with a Member of the European Parliament the work of the civil society monitoring mechanism in the framework of the EU-Korea FTA. The EU DAG discussed moreover amendments to its rules of procedure and lessons learned from its first mandate (2012-2015) and proceeded to elect the Chair for the new term. Preparatory discussions were held in view of the next EU-Korea Civil Society Forum due to take place in Brussels, in the second semester of 2016.
Hearing in view of the preparation of the EESC opinion on the European Commission Communication "Trade for All – Towards a more responsible trade and investment policy"
During the meeting, the EU Advisory Group presented its activities and communication tools, including the website, to the representatives of the Embassies of the Central American countries. It discussed progress in implementation of the Trade and Sustainable Development Title and proposals for follow-up actions to the joint meeting with Central American Advisory Groups held in May 2015. The Group discussed also with the Commission representatives preparation for the annual meeting with Central America planned for 2016. Moreover, the Commission representatives delivered a presentation about the EU programmes and projects for Central America, which are relevant for the Trade and Sustainable Development Title.
The EESC Employers' Group strives for a business environment that contributes to sustainable development, while keeping the EU's economy resilient and resourceful in an ever-changing world. Our Political Priorities beyond 2020 explain how to achieve this goal by fostering EU values, strengthening the EU's economic foundation, bringing the EU to the digital forefront and seizing opportunities provided by proactive climate action.
This document is the political declaration of the Employers' Group before the European elections. The declaration calls for an open economy – with open markets and fair competition. An open economy must be accompanied by an open society that relies on dialogue and good governance. Europe needs enabling and encouraging policies that stimulate creativity, innovation and entrepreneurial spirit. The Group issued the declaration to be vocal about employers' support for the EU.
To enable businesses to perform this role, the EU must provide conditions that make European businesses more competitive, encourage entrepreneurship and ensure favourable conditions for them to innovate, invest, operate and trade. This calls for a business environment that helps prepare for the future, is based on open markets and fair competition and provides enabling and supportive conditions for doing business