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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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Opinion
Adottati on 18/09/2020
Referenza: 
REX/532-EESC-2020
Sessjoni plenarja: 
554 -
Sep 16, 2020 Sep 18, 2020

Key points

Global supply chains (GSC) are key and complex in economic activities across the world and in global trade. Economic growth, job creation and entrepreneurship are also contested by evidence of negative implications for working conditions as well as for sustainability in some supply chains.

The COVID-19 crisis has unveiled the serious downfalls related to highly fragmented and undiversified supply chains. It exposed the vulnerability of workers' health and safety, and it highlighted violations of human rights. Trade will have to play a key role in promoting a sustainable economic recovery. However, stronger instruments need to deliver on a socially and environmentally responsible business, trade and investment agenda.

GSC need to become more resilient, diversified and responsible, and ambitious actions need to ensure they contribute to a fairer economic and social model, based on sustainability and decent work.

Opinjoni tal-KESE: Sustainable supply chains and decent work in international trade (Exploratory opinion at the request of the German presidency)

Opinion
Adottati on 15/07/2020
Referenza: 
REX/529-EESC-2020
Sessjoni plenarja: 
553 - Jul 16, 2020

The unprecedented magnitude of the COVID crisis requires an unprecedented, long-term and unequivocal response. International trade is a vital tool to finance recovery ge get out of the crisis. In these efforts, the EU must stay true to its values and ensure the protection of businesses, workers and people, leaving no one behind. Recovery must be based on sustainability, and inclusive and green growth. Green Deal measures are therefore more relevant than ever.

Opinjoni tal-KESE: A post COVID-19 emergency: the design of a New Multilateral Matrix (own-initiative opinion)

Opinion
Adottati on 15/07/2020
Referenza: 
REX/525-EESC-2020
Sessjoni plenarja: 
553 - Jul 16, 2020

The Covid-19 impact is having a profound and unprecedented impact and Europe needs to respond with a strong, social, sustainable and inclusive EU Recovery Plan that will support companies and people. The upcoming early EU Trade Strategy review needs to draw important lessons from this crisis. The EU is not self-sufficient and depends on access to international markets. It needs resilient, diversified and responsible Global supply chains. Stronger instruments need to deliver on a sustainable trade and investment agenda in all its dimensions. It needs to be consistent with the Green Deal and show equal ambition on the effective implementation and enforcement of labour provisions. European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) recommendations made in a series of recent and ongoing key opinions on EU trade must inform this strategy review.

Opinjoni tal-KESE: Implementation of Free Trade Agreements 1 January 2018 - 31 December 2018

Opinion
Adottati on 11/12/2019
Referenza: 
REX/518-EESC-2019

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.

Opinjoni tal-KESE: Binding UN treaty on business and human rights (own-initiative opinion)

Opinion
Adottati on 30/10/2019
Referenza: 
REX/517-EESC-2019

Opinjoni tal-KESE: The role of the EU's trade and investment policies in enhancing the EU's economic performance (own-initiative opinion)

Opinion
Adottati on 23/01/2019
Referenza: 
REX/510-EESC-2018-EESC-2018-05144-00-00-AC-TRA

Key points:

The EU today faces an increasing demand for a constructive dialogue with civil society on trade, as seen with CETA and TTIP. Domestic advisory groups (DAG) are a great way to connect citizens with trade issues. DAG should responsibly advise on all aspects of EU Trade Agreements.

Domestic advisory groups should be advisory, consultative, institutionalized and competent to cover all provisions of FTAs.

The EESC considers that the participation of civil society in all FTAs is an indispensable element in the strategic ambitions of the external policies of the EU.

The EESC considers its participation in DAGs valuable and wishes to continue to be part of all of them.

The EESC asks budgetary authorities for an additional budget to support Domestic Advisory Groups to fulfil the expected work in terms of quantity and quality.

Opinjoni tal-KESE: The role of Domestic Advisory Groups in monitoring the implementation of Free Trade Agreements

Opinion
Adottati on 23/01/2019
Referenza: 
REX/509-EESC-2018

The European Economic and Social Committee would like to reiterate its commitment to the WTO as the guardian of international trade and a crucible for developing rules and disciplines to ensure fair trade, the liberalisation of trade in goods and services, and transparency in trade-related policy-making.

Opinjoni tal-KESE: Reforming the WTO to adapt to developments in world trade (own-initiative opinion)

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