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.
Opinion on the Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on common rules for imports of textile products from certain third countries not covered by bilateral agreements, protocols or other arrangements, or by other specific Union import rules (recast)
The EU has one of the world's most open investment regimes, and collectively EU Member States have the fewest restrictions in the world on foreign direct investment (FDI). The OECD expressly acknowledged this in its FDI Regulatory Restrictiveness Index which measures statutory barriers against foreign investment in over 60 countries.
The Commission's reflection paper of 10 May 2017 on Harnessing Globalisation recognised increasing concerns about foreign investors' strategic acquisitions of European companies with key technologies. These concerns called into question the capacity of the current regulatory framework to address them.
The role of trade as a generator of growth and jobs is undeniable, but public perception of the further liberalisation of trade is getting worse and citizens' concerns must be addressed far more effectively than before. This was one of the conclusions of the conference on "Strengthening European Growth and Competitiveness: Proactive Trade Agenda – NOW!" that took place in Helsinki on 26 October. Jacek Krawczyk, President of the EESC Employers' Group, added:
It is our responsibility to advocate for trade; we cannot take it for granted that people understand what the benefits ...
The importance of Social Dialogue, the role of employers' organisations, the economic situation in the Balkan countries, progress in the accession process and current political challenges: these were main topics of the discussions at the Balkan Employers' Round Table that took place in Ljubljana, Slovenia, on 22 March 2017. The event brought together representatives of employers' organisations from former Yugoslavia (Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and the Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia).
The Committee calls for a fair, consensus-based international solution at the OECD level which contributes to achieving fair taxation principles and fair revenues for small and large countries alike
An effective solution for taxation of businesses in the digitalised economy should be found at the global level, to prevent further unilateral action and to ensure sustainable growth, investment, tax certainty and fairness, international tax experts and civil society representatives stated at a hearing held by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) on 29 January.
The condition of the European economy, completing the Single Market, trade and Brexit – these are the top issues for European employers' organisations in the forthcoming months. On 29 March 2017, the Directors-General and Secretaries-General of BusinessEurope, EuroCommerce and Copa-Cogega presented their priorities and debated with the members of the EESC Employers' Group.