The EESC issues between 160 and 190 opinions and information reports a year.
It also organises several annual initiatives and events with a focus on civil society and citizens’ participation such as the Civil Society Prize, the Civil Society Days, the Your Europe, Your Say youth plenary and the ECI Day.
The EESC brings together representatives from all areas of organised civil society, who give their independent advice on EU policies and legislation. The EESC's326 Members are organised into three groups: Employers, Workers and Various Interests.
The EESC has six sections, specialising in concrete topics of relevance to the citizens of the European Union, ranging from social to economic affairs, energy, environment, external relations or the internal market.
The main conclusion of the paper is that the incorporation of environmental provisions within the EPAs may present some benefits to ACP countries. These include increased enforcement of environmental laws and the raising of domestic environmental standards. However, developing countries will have to seek ways to mitigate some risks and challenges associated with internal and regional coordination in negotiations, legal burdens of the negotiating process itself and the implementation of obligations as well as the establishment and maintenance of appropriate levels of environmental protection and institution building. ACP countries will need appropriate packages of technical assistance, capacity building, and environmental cooperation to meet this new environmental agenda in their trade agreements.
Environmental issues in economic partnership agreements: Implications for developing countries
In October 2008, Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Dominican Republic, being members of the Forum of the Caribbean Group of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (CARIFORUM), signed the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union (EU). Haiti signed the agreement in December 2009, but has not yet applied it, as it still has to be ratified.
The first objective of Article 1 of the Agreement indicated that the EPA is expected to contribute to “the reduction and eventual eradication of poverty through the establishment of a trade partnership consistent with the objective of sustainable development, the Millennium Development Goals and the Cotonou Agreement” but also to promote regional integration, economic cooperation and good governance, and to improve CARIFORUM States' capacity in trade policy and trade-related issues.
In the context of the implementation of this EPA, the ILO Decent Work Team (DWT) for the English and Dutch-speaking Caribbean based in Trinidad and Tobago put together, with the financial support of the EU, the project “Support to Facilitate Participation of CARIFORUM Civil Society in the Regional Development and Integration Process: Challenges to CARIFORUM Labour, Private Sector and Employers to Fulfil their EPA Obligations”. It targeted all CARIFORUM countries and was to be implemented between 2015 and 2018. This project is herein after referred to as the “ILO-EU Project”.
CARIFORUM Civil Society in the Regional Development and Integration Process
At the dawn of the new millennium, the European Union (EU) wanted to change profoundly its economic and commercial relationship with the countries of the Africa-
Caribbean-Pacific (ACP) with whom she had a privileged relationship. This relationship was hitherto based for a quarter of a century on a traditional vision support to the former British and French colonies through the opening non-reciprocal nature of the European market to products originating from these countries. This arrangement was gradually considered ineffective and not in accordance with the rules of the international trade. This led the EU to favor a new approach neo-liberal inspiration, nuanced by a certain consideration of the differences in between the EU and ACP countries. It has in fact acted, through the Economic Partnership (EPA), to put in place free trade agreements between
the EU and large ACP regions, de jure demanding a strong reciprocity with openness from 2008 ACP markets to products (goods and services) originating in the EU.
Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) as a support tool for ACP countries in their economic development strategy and market: the case of the CARIFORUM-EU EPA
The OECS and IOC are two small regional integration and cooperation organizations, respectively, founded by small island ACP States to support them in their economic and social development efforts, and which have subsequently opened up to a certain degree of differentiated participation in French overseas territories in a context of evolving international and commercial relations.
In this article, we propose a comparative analysis of these two organizations and this participation, highlighting the common points, but also the important legal, political, socio-economic and financial differences.
The first part is devoted to the comparative analytical presentation of the two organizations, before going on to discuss in a second part the question of the participation of French Overseas Territories and its differentiated modalities. The conclusion provides an overall assessment of observed dynamics.
Regional Integration and Participation of French Overseas: A Comparative Analysis of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC)