In its opinion the EESC underlines that the social economy is a key player and helps to achieve the objectives of all European policies with an external dimension: external and security policy, trade policy, neighbourhood policy, climate change policy, development cooperation and sustainable development policy. However, the lack of an appropriate regulatory environment, at both European and national level, prevents this sector from developing its full potential and maximising its impact. The Commission and the Member States must promote the participation, consultation and coordination of their external entrepreneurial and development cooperation activities with the bodies representing the social economy at European and national level, as well as with those of partner countries, and with international social economy organisations with a North-South and South-South dimension.
Im Bereich des internationalen Handels besteht ein komplexes System weltweiter Regelungen, die im Rahmen von Vereinbarungen der Welthandelsorganisation sowie bilateralen und multilateralen Abkommen beschlossen wurden. Die Freihandelsabkommen wirken sich zunehmend auf die Bürgerrechte aus. Gemäß dem Vertrag von Lissabon muss die EU-Handelspolitik unter Berücksichtigung der Grundsätze und Ziele der Außenpolitik der Union gestaltet werden. Hierzu gehören die Förderung der Rechtsstaatlichkeit, der Menschenrechte und der nachhaltigen Entwicklung.
Der EWSA ist der Auffassung, dass dies ein Leitprinzip für die Handelsverhandlungen und ‑beziehungen der EU sein sollte. Er gewährleistet die Konsensbildung von Unternehmen, Arbeitnehmern, Freiberuflern, Landwirten, Verbrauchern und anderen wichtigen Interessenträgern und schafft damit einen echten Mehrwert. Er leitet die Standpunkte der Zivilgesellschaft und Interessengruppen sowohl bei den Verhandlungen über Handelsabkommen als auch bei deren Umsetzung auf effiziente Weise an die internationalen politischen Entscheidungsträger weiter. Er hat einen Begleitausschuss Internationaler Handel eingerichtet, um sicherzustellen, dass die Zivilgesellschaft in die Gestaltung der EU-Handelspolitik einbezogen wird. Zudem leitet er die Internen Beratungsgruppen, die auf Grundlage der Kapitel „Handel und nachhaltige Entwicklung“ in den EU-Handelsabkommen der neuen Generation eingerichtet wurden. Aufgabe dieser Beratungsgruppen, denen Vertreter der Zivilgesellschaft (u. a. aus den Reihen des EWSA) angehören, ist es, Probleme im Bereich Handel und nachhaltige Entwicklung aufzuzeigen, die bei der Umsetzung eines Handelsabkommens auftreten können.
The EESC is committed to open and fair trade and recognises its value as a driver of growth and jobs. Therefore, the EESC calls for a level playing field between European and third country exporting producers, and for effective trade defence instruments. The EESC supports the Commission's proposal that the dumping margin should be calculated not using the standard methodology, but on the basis of benchmarks that take account of significantly distorted production and sale costs. The EESC points out that in its 2016 opinion on preserving sustainable jobs and growth in the steel industry, it already called for the standard methodology not to be used in anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigations into Chinese imports as long as the country failed to meet the EU's five criteria for market economy status. The EESC welcomes the Commission's intention of using specific criteria to determine whether there are significant distortions in the market situation.
The EESC has played an important role in strengthening an informed civil society debate on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) through a number of TTIP-related opinions, adopted in 2014 and 2015, covering issues such as labour rights, investment protection, impact on SMEs, among others.
It is important under the present circumstances that the EESC, in order to maintain its position as a key civil society player in the TTIP debate, react to the textual proposals for TTIP negotiations on essential topics such as the sustainable development chapter, regulatory cooperation, investment and services. This will have the advantage not only of setting up the EESC position on major negotiating chapters but also of presenting concrete recommendations and pointing out the need to involve civil society in the implementation of those chapters.
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) warns against granting China market economy status (MES) and calls on the European institutions to promote fair international competition and actively defend European jobs and European values with efficient trade defence instruments (TDIs). In its opinion, adopted at its 514th plenary session on 14th July, the EESC points to the disastrous impact a possible granting of MES to China would have on Europe's industry and consequently on Europe's labour market. The EESC insists on China's fulfilment of the five EU criteria for achieving the MES.
The EU acknowledges the increasing importance of including the EU and partner countries' companies in the GSCs. It is also emphasised that the current interdependence of the economies may further increase due to the recently negotiated and implemented EU trade and investment agreements, as well as negotiations at the WTO. The EESC also recommends cooperation between international organisations and other relevant stakeholders. This would include adopting a common language and common definitions of elements related to global value chains, GSCs and decent work, and comparison and assessment of the statistical data between the various stakeholders, such as the OECD, the International Labour Organisation (ILO), WTO, the European Commission, the World Bank and IFM. This should help avoid confusion and misinterpretation, and support elaboration of a coherent policy between diverse public bodies involved.
The proposal on an International Procurement Instrument (IPI) is the EU response to the lack of a level playing field in world procurement markets. While our public procurement market is open to foreign bidders, the procurement markets for foreign goods and services in third countries remain to a large extent closed de iure or de facto. The IPI aims at encouraging partners to engage in negotiations and opening participation for EU bidders and goods in third countries' tenders. A first proposal on this issue was made in 2012 (COM(2012) 124 final) but there was no agreement in the Council. The new Commission proposal incorporates some of the changes requested from the European Parliament and tries to reply to some of the concerns expressed in the Council. A number of Member States have expressed reservations as regards the principle of closing the EU market for goods and services originating in certain third countries, even if only temporarily and in a targeted way.
The European Commission review of EU trade strategy is timely in the first year of a new Commission.
The intense public interest that has been aroused by the TTIP negotiations between the EU and the US demonstrates that trade is no longer an esoteric matter nor the concern of those few who are sufficiently involved to master the finer, highly technical detail that trade involves. It is now a popular issue and part of the public agenda, but because of its technicalities it is also open to wide misunderstanding.
The Information Report can serve as a tool to promote and share the rich experience of the EU and its Member States in the area of CSR with partner countries and their civil society. It can provide a basis for discussion in EESC dialogues with partner countries, as well as the Committee's contribution to the work of the monitoring mechanisms established by the recently negotiated EU trade agreements.