Administrator: Ewa Tomaszewska, Assistant: Nadja Kačičnik
The COVID-19 crisis has had an unprecedented impact on the global economy, trade and investment. The crisis has brought about major upheaval worldwide and sparked a debate on the need to overhaul national and European trade and industrial policies, by upgrading and guaranteeing "strategic production" (in areas such as health, pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, transport, etc.). Against this backdrop, there has been a great deal of focus on the position of national and European production systems within the global value chain. The EU's decision to promote the dual digital and green-economy transitions will inevitably have consequences for European trade policies. In this context, not only should there be a reform of the World Trade Organization (WTO) enabling this body to return to playing a key role in world trade, but European trade policy – and the tools it has available – also needs to be revamped. Among these instruments, the EU's bilateral free trade, economic partnership and investment agreements play a particularly important role.
Over the last number of years, the EESC, civil society and the social partners have repeatedly asked to be properly and more closely involved in the various stages leading to the conclusion of bilateral trade (or investment or economic partnership) agreements between the European Union and other trading partner countries.
Objective: It is now particularly important to shape a new and more effective framework for these agreements that can ensure the proper involvement of the social partners and organised civil society from the early stages of the negotiation process leading to bilateral trade (or investment or economic partnership) agreements. A roadmap should be put in place to ensure real involvement:
- during the negotiation phase;
- at the stage of assessing the impact of the agreement;
- at the stakeholder consultation stage;
- at the stage of drafting the agreement;
- during the monitoring and possible implementation of the agreement.
In this way, as well as ensuring the transparency of the agreement, it will be possible to reach an efficient and effective agreement since it will be endorsed by the economic and social players directly and indirectly affected by it.