External Relations Section (REX) - Related Opinions
The purpose of this opinion is twofold:
1. To make an inventory of all the concrete proposals made by EESC members during the current term of office concerning any form of coordination between the rule books of the UNCCC for climate change, the WTO for trade in goods, services and investments and subsidies, and the ILO for the main conventions, and in particular, decent work agenda;
2. To organise hearings in Brussels and Geneva of key people and consultations through an on‑line platform in order to articulate a set of practical proposals designed to bring about greater integration of economic, environmental and social rules.
The main questions to be addressed in the opinion are: what are the components of carbon markets, what are the challenges for the future and, finally, the challenges for EU industry? The opinion is expected to make a significant contribution to the current political debate within the framework of the European Green Deal.
A system of corporate liability for human rights abuses is currently being negotiated in the UN, within the UNHRC’s open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises concerning human rights (OEIGWG), established by the UN General Assembly on 26 June 2014. The mandate of the working group is to elaborate an international legally binding instrument to regulate, in international human rights law, the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises.
When it comes to development and EU-Africa relations, the EESC consistently emphasised the importance of sustainable development and cooperation based on the rule of law and the respect for human rights. Initiatives focused on trade, investment and business relations with Africa could be welcomed, but not to the detriment of traditional development policies focusing on reaching the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). EU and Africa leaders agreed in 2015 at the Valletta summit on migration on setting up the EU Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF), as the main instrument of EU external migration policy. The Fund finances the development of border protection capacities, but also long-term development policy projects so as to decrease the likelihood of further migration.
2019 is the year we are celebrating the ten-year anniversary of a real and living partnership – the Eastern Partnership (EaP). Over the last decade this partnership has gone through its share of difficulties. Yet, it not only endured - it developed, matured and delivered beyond what we foresaw at the beginning.
Thus after 10 years of EaP policy, it is crucial to properly evaluate the achievements and aims and reflect on the next possible steps. It is important to ensure that EaP policy connects countries and people and covers a broad area of issues, including supporting civil society, pluralism and independent media, as well as ensuring gender equality and non-discrimination. As it is likely that the policy will change its course from a one-size-fits-all to a tailor-made approach, it will be crucial to ensure that those wanting to get closer to the EU have this opportunity, adapted to their ambitions and pace.
The EESC considers there is no better moment in the history of European integration for the EU to lead the way by charting a new direction for peace-building worldwide.
The EESC presents The WhiteDoveWay, a metaphorical and physical route map pointing the way forward, focusing on conflict prevention, civil society involvement, and effective communication using education and information, and a European Path of Peace to physically engage citizens so they are included and empowered in the EU peace process.
The EESC calls for the new EU budget to devote greatly increased funds to conflict prevention in all EU external relations peace programmes.
The EESC strongly recommends greater involvement of civil society in the decision-making process.
The EESC calls for a serious communication effort to promote the role of education and information to deliver the EU peace-building story.
The EESC considers the Joint Communication to be most timely. The world order is changing at its fastest rate for nearly thirty years, the post-war international trading order is under significant challenge, the balance of global economic power is moving eastwards and Asian global purchasing power is growing exponentially.
The EESC welcomes the emphasis in the Communication on sustainable, comprehensive and rules-based connectivity.