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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.

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04/09/2014

During the meeting, the representative of the European External Action Service (EEAS) provided information about EU-Korea relations following the entry into force of the new Framework Agreement on 1 June 2014. Moreover, the Commission (DG TRADE) provided update concerning implementation of the trade and sustainable development chapter of the EU-Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and preparations for the meetings with Korea planned for December 2014. In this context, the EU DAG discussed also its contributions to a debate with Korea during the Civil Society Forum, notably on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Emission Trading System (ETS).

02/12/2015

During the meeting, the EU Advisory Group presented its activities and communication tools, including the website, to the representatives of the Embassies of the Central American countries. It discussed progress in implementation of the Trade and Sustainable Development Title and proposals for follow-up actions to the joint meeting with Central American Advisory Groups held in May 2015. The Group discussed also with the Commission representatives preparation for the annual meeting with Central America planned for 2016. Moreover, the Commission representatives delivered a presentation about the EU programmes and projects for Central America, which are relevant for the Trade and Sustainable Development Title.

07/04/2016

During the meeting, the EU DAG had an opportunity to discuss with Mr. Helmut Scholz, Member of the European Parliament, implementation of the Trade and Sustainable Development Title and work of the civil society monitoring mechanism in the framework of the EU-Colombia and Peru Trade Agreement. Moreover, the representatives of the European External Action Service (EEAS) presented information about the EU relations and cooperation with Colombia and Peru. Based on the Second Annual Report, the Commission representative provided information about the implementation of the Trade Agreement, changes in trade flows and work of joint bodies. He also informed about the procedures and timeline related to Ecuador's accession to the Agreement.

02/10/2014

Following up the opinion adopted by the EESC on Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, the Employers' Group of the EESC organises the debate entitled "What development opportunities will the TTIP give Europe?" The discussion will take place during European Forum for New Ideas in Sopot, Poland. The panellists will discuss what are the benefits and challenges coming from TTIP and will analyse consequences of closer regulatory cooperation.

05/03/2015

During the meeting, the Commission (DG TRADE) provided information on implementation of the EU-Korea FTA, as well as update on plurilateral negotiations (green goods initiative) aiming at liberalisation of trade in environmental goods and services. The EU DAG discussed also follow-up to the Trade and Sustainable Development Committee and the EU-Korea Civil Society Forum (CSF) held on 8-9 December 2014 and preparations for the next ones to take place on 9-10 September 2015 in Seoul. In line with the EU-Korea CSF Conclusions, a particular attention was dedicated to the question of labour standards, notably trade unions rights in Korea. The afternoon session of the EU DAG meeting was dedicated to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

07/12/2016 08/12/2016

During the meeting, the EU Domestic Advisory Group (EU DAG) and civil society representatives from Colombia and Peru will discuss implementation of the Trade and Sustainable Development Title of the Trade Agreement, with a particular focus on respect for international labour and environmental standards. They will also discuss economic, social, environmental and human rights impacts resulting from the implementation of the Agreement. The participants will reflect moreover on how the civil society from the EU, Colombia and Peru can cooperate to promote sustainable development in the context of trade relations and prepare for the next joint meeting. The participants may adopt a joint declaration summarising outcomes of their discussion and present it to the Parties during the open session planned for 8 December.

03/02/2015

ESC hearing on  " Investment Protection and ISDS in EU Trade and Investment Agreements". The hearing will gather civil society representatives who will present their position towards investment protection and Investor to State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions in the current process of elaboration of the EU investment policy, which was added as an exclusive competence of the EU since the Lisbon Treaty.

15/07/2015

During the meeting, the EU Domestic Advisory Group (EU DAG) prepared for the meetings with Korea: the workshop on labour-related aspects and the EU-Korea Civil Society Forum, which will take place on 9-10 September 2015 in Seoul. The EU DAG discussed in particular its contributions to a debate with Korea on labour standards, as well as on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and civil society participation in development and implementation of climate change policy.

24/02/2016

During the meeting, the EEAS representative presented information about the EU relations with the Republic of Korea. The European Commission updated participants on the implementation of the EU-Korea FTA and its trade and sustainable development chapter. It also presented the state of play and the next steps in the ex-post evaluation of the agreement as well as the preparation of joint projects with Korea. The EU DAG also had the opportunity to discuss with a Member of the European Parliament the work of the civil society monitoring mechanism in the framework of the EU-Korea FTA. The EU DAG discussed moreover amendments to its rules of procedure and lessons learned from its first mandate (2012-2015) and proceeded to elect the Chair for the new term. Preparatory discussions were held in view of the next EU-Korea Civil Society Forum due to take place in Brussels, in the second semester of 2016.

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