Hearing in view of the preparation of the EESC opinion on the European Commission Communication "Trade for All – Towards a more responsible trade and investment policy"
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.
During the meeting, the EU Domestic Advisory Group (EU DAG) and civil society representatives from Colombia and Peru will discuss implementation of the Trade and Sustainable Development Title of the Trade Agreement, with a particular focus on respect for international labour and environmental standards. They will also discuss economic, social, environmental and human rights impacts resulting from the implementation of the Agreement. The participants will reflect moreover on how the civil society from the EU, Colombia and Peru can cooperate to promote sustainable development in the context of trade relations and prepare for the next joint meeting. The participants may adopt a joint declaration summarising outcomes of their discussion and present it to the Parties during the open session planned for 8 December.
During the meeting, the EEAS representative presented information about the EU relations with the Republic of Korea. The European Commission updated participants on the implementation of the EU-Korea FTA and its trade and sustainable development chapter. It also presented the state of play and the next steps in the ex-post evaluation of the agreement as well as the preparation of joint projects with Korea. The EU DAG also had the opportunity to discuss with a Member of the European Parliament the work of the civil society monitoring mechanism in the framework of the EU-Korea FTA. The EU DAG discussed moreover amendments to its rules of procedure and lessons learned from its first mandate (2012-2015) and proceeded to elect the Chair for the new term. Preparatory discussions were held in view of the next EU-Korea Civil Society Forum due to take place in Brussels, in the second semester of 2016.
This public hearing will discuss the current state of multilateral trade negotiations on agriculture. After the Nairobi agreement of export competition, some progress could be made on the areas of market access (tariffs and quotas) and, to some extent, on domestic support.
The Consultative Committee (CC) is one of the 5 institutions foreseen in the EU-CARIFORUM Economic Partnership Agreement. The CC is composed of 40 (25 from the CARIFORM side and 15 from the EU side) standing representatives of organisations of the civil society representing employers' organisations, trade unions, other economic, social and non-governmental organisations, including development and environmental organisations; and the academic community.
During the meeting, the EU DAG discussed with a representative of the European Commission the progress in work on implementation of the EU-Canada CETA. The Group also exchanged views with a representative of the Canada Mission to the EU. A discussion round on the work programme was also held.
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: