The EESC has played an important role in raising awareness of EU trade policy among civil society both in the EU and in third countries. The EESC encourages the Commission to strengthen its dialogue with civil society to develop the functioning of TSD chapters in current and future trade agreements. However, the EESC urges the Commission to be more ambitious in its approach, in particular with respect to strengthening effective enforceability of the commitments in TSD chapters, which is of crucial importance to the EESC. TSD chapters must be given equal weight to those covering commercial, technical or tariff issues.
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External relations - Related Opinions
Turkey’s geographical position makes it a first reception and transit country for many refugees and migrants. As the result of an unprecedented influx of people seeking refuge, the country currently hosts more than 2.7 million registered Syrian refugees and is making commendable efforts to provide them with humanitarian aid and support. The EU is committed to assist Turkey in dealing with this challenge.
The 2030 UN Agenda, or the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, will be one of the top global priorities over the next 15 years, yet it received very little mention in the Commission Communication "Trade for all". Trade is specifically mentioned with regard to nine SDGs (but only once in the MDGs). UNCTAD estimate that, to meet the 17 goals and the 169 targets, at least an extra US$2.5 trillion a year will need to be found - effectively from the private sector. This opinion would seek to look into this further and aim to evaluate how much of that will need to come through trade and investment.
Cuba poses a major challenge to relations between the European Union and Latin America. The European Union has maintained diplomatic and economic relations with Cuba that have been the focus of special attention, in particular by the European Parliament, since the changes initiated by Raúl Castro's government from 2010 onwards. Among other things, these changes affect the organisation of work, the trade union movement and civil society organisations. The EESC is increasingly engaged with issues of bilateral cooperation, especially with those parts of the world experiencing transformations that bring local organised civil society into the framework of official cooperation relations with the EU. In this regard, the EESC has set itself the aim of ensuring the greatest possible participation by civil society.
At the request of the future Bulgarian presidency of the Council of the EU (January-June 2018), the EESC was asked to prepare an exploratory opinion on the challenges and priorities countries of the Western Balkans are facing in the European integration process, as well as in the area of economic and social cohesion. Western Balkans will be one of the policy priorities of the Bulgarian presidency and a Western Balkans Summit is scheduled to take place in May 2018 in Sofia.
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 situation concerning economic, social and cultural rights is quite patchy in the Euro-Mediterranean region. Although some countries, in the wake of what has been called the Arab spring, drew up new constitutions enshrining some of these rights in legislation for the very first time, the rights have not always been respected. In certain other countries, these rights have been weakened since 2011.The aim of this information report would be to give an overview of the current situation as regards economic, social and cultural rights in the Euro-Mediterranean region, as well as pinpointing new avenues for work in the future. This report would be submitted at the Euromed Summit of Economic and Social Councils and would enable us to work together with our counterparts from the Mediterranean countries.
2017 is a defining year for the partnership between Europe and Africa. In a rapidly changing global landscape, Africa is experiencing profound economic, political and societal changes, and its importance to the internal and external dimensions of Europe's security and prosperity is becoming ever more obvious. Europe and Africa have much to gain from increased political and economic ties, but also a lot to lose if they fail to act.
The 5th Africa-EU Summit, due to take place in November 2017, provides a critical opportunity for African and European Leaders to respond to this evolving context and reshape and deepen the Africa-EU partnership. With a view to prepare a EU position in the run-up to the Summit, the European Commission and the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy presented a Joint Communication for which they sent this referral to the EESC. …
The EESC believes that the current framework for international ocean governance is unable to ensure the sustainable management of oceans and their resources, and urgent action is imperative. However, the Commission and the High Representative still need to prioritise the threats currently faced by our oceans in order to adequately reflect the urgent need for action. One of the causes of ineffective international ocean governance is the existence of gaps in the current international ocean governance framework. The EESC recommends that the Commission and High Representative address these gaps and inconsistencies, but also that they increase compliance with existing rules, for example by improving the implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. The EU should refrain from proposing any new legislation when better or more coordinated implementation of existing rules and regulations would be more efficient.