The 9th meeting of the EU Advisory Group for the EU-Central America Association Agreement took place on 14 October in Brussels.
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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.
With a view to gathering as much input as possible during the preparatory process for the proposed opinion from a wide range of experts, the hearing will include preliminary presentation on the governance, functioning and structure of the WTO with an exploration towards the strategic role that civil society can represent in a wider plurality of interests and a larger scope of collaboration.
During the meeting, the civil society representatives from the EU and the Republic of Korea, i.e. members of their Domestic Advisory Groups (DAGs) discussed the latest developments related to implementation of the Trade and Sustainable Development chapter of the EU-Korea FTA, as well as relations between trade and green growth, and trade and labour rights respectively.
During the meeting, the EU Domestic Advisory Group (EU DAG) discussed several aspects related to its composition and mandate provided by the Trade and Sustainable Development Title. The Group discussed also its Rules of procedure and elected Mr Giuseppe Iuliano (EESC, Workers Group) for the role of the Chair. Moreover, the representative of the European External Action Service (EEAS) provided information about the EU relations with Colombia and Peru and cooperation in a number of policy areas. The Commission representatives (DG TRADE) informed about progress achieved in implementation of the EU-Colombia and Peru Trade Agreement and its Trade and Sustainable Development Title. They also informed about the publication of the first Annual Report on this matter. The remaining part of the meeting was dedicated to a preliminary discussion concerning preparations for the meetings with Colombia and Peru in Bogota (Colombia) in June 2015.
In view of the ongoing TTIP negotiations, the EESC is organising a seminar, whose main purpose will be to be to assess the need for an energy chapter in the TTIP, in particular after the lifting of the US restrictions on crude oil exports and the impact that such a chapter might have on trade of energy goods and services, and on environmental and energy policies both in the EU and the US. Main topics: a) the impact of TTIP on the EU energy market and security of energy supplies; b) the possibility to foster a more transparent, predictable, open and non-discriminatory framework for traders and investors in energy and raw materials, by improving transparency and competition in the energy sector; c) an energy chapter in TTIP as a model to shape energy relations with other countries; d) the impact on trade in environmental goods, renewable energy and energy efficiency, aiming at contributing to the achievement of SDGs and climate change targets.
During the meeting, the EU DAG will discuss with a representative of the European Parliament the progress in work on its report on implementation of the EU-Korea FTA. The Group may also inquire about the outcomes of the EP's mission to the Republic of Korea, which took place in May 2016. The European Commission will update participants on the state of play and the next steps in the ex-post evaluation of the agreement as well as implementation of the EU-Korea joint project related to the ILO Convention No. 111. The Commission will also inform the Group about the preparations for the meetings with Korea under the trade and sustainable development chapter, which will be held in Brussels by the end of 2016. The EU DAG will discuss moreover preparations for the next EU-Korea Civil Society Forum.
The hearing aimed to identify how trade and investment policies can contribute to the achievement of SDGs. The main questions which were discussed during the debate included: can trade and sustainable development be mutually reinforcing? Are there SDGs, which are particularly dependent on the existence on an open, rule-based, equitable multilateral trade system? What should be the role of private sector in achieving SDGs through trade and investment policies? Can civil society be instrumental in achieving SDGs through trade policy? How can ''Aid for trade'' be an efficient tool for achieving SDGs?
The 11th meeting of the EU Advisory Group for the EU-Central America Association Agreement took place on 25 January in Brussels. Please click on the programme tab to consult the topics on the agenda.
During the meeting, the composition of the presidency was confirmed. The Group discussed its mandate, and proposed topics ahead of the 2019 Civil Society Forum. Moreover, the EU DAG discussed with representatives of the EC matters related to the implementation of the EU-Korea FTA under three pillars of sustainable development.
During the meeting, the representatives of the EU and Central American Advisory Groups discussed the mandate and composition of the Advisory Groups as envisaged by the Trade and Sustainable Development Title, as well as progress achieved in their establishment, nomination of contact persons and launching the first activities. The participants discussed also matters related to trade in agricultural products, including fair trade, respect for labour and environmental standards, situation and role of small and medium-sized producers, sustainability considerations, the role of supply chains, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and examples of best practices in this area, as well as support for producers. They also adopted a Joint Declaration which was presented on the following day in the Civil Society Dialogue Forum meeting.