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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 30/10/2019
Referenza: 
REX/517-EESC-2019
Sessjoni plenarja: 
547 -
Oct 30, 2019 Oct 31, 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)

Opinion
Adottati on 18/04/2018
Referenza: 
REX/498-EESC-2017

The EU has one of the world's most open investment regimes, and collectively EU Member States have the fewest restrictions in the world on foreign direct investment (FDI). The OECD expressly acknowledged this in its FDI Regulatory Restrictiveness Index which measures statutory barriers against foreign investment in over 60 countries.

The Commission's reflection paper of 10 May 2017 on Harnessing Globalisation recognised increasing concerns about foreign investors' strategic acquisitions of European companies with key technologies. These concerns called into question the capacity of the current regulatory framework to address them.

Opinjoni tal-KESE: Screening of foreign direct investments into the European Union

Opinion
Adottati on 14/02/2018
Referenza: 
REX/500-EESC-2017

The EESC has played an important role in raising awareness of EU trade policy among civil society both in the EU and in third countries. The EESC encourages the Commission to strengthen its dialogue with civil society to develop the functioning of TSD chapters in current and future trade agreements. However, the EESC urges the Commission to be more ambitious in its approach, in particular with respect to strengthening effective enforceability of the commitments in TSD chapters, which is of crucial importance to the EESC. TSD chapters must be given equal weight to those covering commercial, technical or tariff issues.

Opinjoni tal-KESE: Trade and sustainable development chapters (TSD) in EU Free Trade agreements (FTA) (own-initiative opinion)

Opinion
Adottati on 07/12/2017
Referenza: 
REX/485-EESC-2017-EESC-2017-00788-00-00-AC-TRA

The Commission recently published a Communication on a Renewed Partnership with the ACP Group of countries. ACP-EU relations are currently governed by the Cotonou Partnership Agreement that will expire in 2020, therefore the Commission has published recommendations on what the future structure should be. Last year the EESC already drafted a general opinion on the post-Cotonou framework; this new opinion will have to answer specifically to the Commission's communication.

 

Opinjoni tal-KESE: Renewed partnership with African, Caribbean and Pacific countries (Communication)

Downloads: 

Renewed ACP Partnership

Opinion
Adottati on 07/12/2017
Referenza: 
REX/486-EESC-2017

The 2030 UN Agenda, or the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, will be one of the top global priorities over the next 15 years, yet it received very little mention in the Commission Communication "Trade for all". Trade is specifically mentioned with regard to nine SDGs (but only once in the MDGs). UNCTAD estimate that, to meet the 17 goals and the 169 targets, at least an extra US$2.5 trillion a year will need to be found - effectively from the private sector. This opinion would seek to look into this further and aim to evaluate how much of that will need to come through trade and investment.

Opinjoni tal-KESE: The core role of trade and investment in meeting and implementing the sustainable development goals (own-initiative opinion)

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