The 11th meeting of the EU Advisory Group for the EU-Colombia, Peru and Ecuador Free Trade Agreement took place on 28 March 2019 in Brussels. Please click on the programme tab to consult the topics on the agenda.
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.
The 2nd meeting of the EU-Ukraine Civil Society Platform took place on 11 February 2016 in EESC premises in Brussels. During the meeting, a debate was held assessing the state of play in the implementation of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, and two reports, prepared by both sides, were discussed and adopted – on energy policy and on the rule of law, with a focus on fight against corruption. A Joint Declaration was adopted at the end of the meeting to be forwarded to the EU-Ukraine Association Council, the Association Committee, the Parliamentary Association Committee and other relevant bodies both in Ukraine as well as in the EU.
After the entry of force of CETA, Commissioner Malmstrom said she intends to "immediately open a broad debate based on thorough consultation of all stakeholders including EU Member States, Members of the European Parliament, Members of the European Economic and Social Committee and civil society". In this context, the European Commission asked the EESC to organise a discussion on a position paper, which was prepared by the European Commission on the assessment and possible options for improvement of the functioning of the TSD chapters, which focused on substantive provisions, institutional mechanisms, civil society participation and dispute settlement. The event was organised in the framework of this position paper.
With a view to gather expert input during the preparatory process for this opinion from a wide range of stakeholders - civil society organisations, think tanks, and EU institutions included - a hearing was organised at the EESC premises on the legislative proposal of the European Commission on the establishment of a framework for screening of foreign direct investments into the European Union. The proposal aims to enable the EU Member States and the Commission to screen foreign direct investment on the grounds of security or public order.
The purpose of the conference is to raise awareness, across the EU, on how multi-stakeholder actions can boost the achievement of the SDGs, to identify success factors, and to develop follow-up actions for upscaling these to EU-level.
The specific conference objectives are:
During the meeting, the EU DAG discussed with a representative of the European Commission the outcome and follow-up of the last CTSD meeting, held on March 24th, as well as the Commission's annual report on the EU-Korea FTA that was presented in June. Presentations of the recent developments in the Republic of Korea were also made by representatives of the correspondent country desk oin the European Commission and the EEAS. The EP shadow rapporteur on the implementation of the Free Trade Agreement between the European Union and the Republic of Korea, Dr Joachim Schuster, MEP (S&D Group), presented the European Parliament resolution adopted on 18 May 2017 to the EU DAG.
As the world’s largest exporter and importer of foreign direct investment, it is of paramount importance for the EU to ensure that the resolution of investment disputes operates effectively on an international level. Many countries are currently engaged in internal reflections regarding their policies on investment protection and investment dispute settlement. The EESC aims therefore to make a timely contribution to this ongoing and highly interesting debate.
At the request of the European Commission, the EESC is currently drafting an own-initiative opinion on a possible future multilateral court for the settlement of investment disputes. The European Commission proposes for this court to become a permanent body to decide investment disputes, under the auspices of the United Nations Commission on International Trade law (UNCITRAL).
During the meeting, the members of the Domestic Advisory Group (DAG) of the EU composed of representatives of employers' organisations, trade unions and various interest group, elected their Chair and Vice-Chairs. They discussed the mandate of the EU DAG, working methods, reporting procedures and cooperation with other civil society organisations, as well as exchange views on its rules of procedure.
During the meeting, the EU DAG will discuss with a representative of the European Commission the progress in work on implementation of the EU-Canada CETA. The Group will potentially exchange views with a representative of the Canada Mission to the EU. A discussion round on the work programme will also be held.
During the meeting, the Commission representative provided information about the implementation of the project on labour standards delivered in cooperation with the ILO in El Salvador and Guatemala. The Commission also informed about preparations for meetings with Central America planned for 15-17 June in Honduras, in particular meeting of the intergovernmental Board on Trade and Sustainable Development. The EU Advisory Group then discussed preparations for the civil society meetings with Central America, which this year will include a workshop on market access, a joint meeting of the Advisory Groups and an open Civil Society Dialogue Forum. In the afternoon, a video-conference with Central American partners took place to discuss preparations for joint meetings.