External Relations Section (REX) - Related Opinions
2019 is the year we are celebrating the ten-year anniversary of a real and living partnership – the Eastern Partnership (EaP). Over the last decade this partnership has gone through its share of difficulties. Yet, it not only endured - it developed, matured and delivered beyond what we foresaw at the beginning.
Thus after 10 years of EaP policy, it is crucial to properly evaluate the achievements and aims and reflect on the next possible steps. It is important to ensure that EaP policy connects countries and people and covers a broad area of issues, including supporting civil society, pluralism and independent media, as well as ensuring gender equality and non-discrimination. As it is likely that the policy will change its course from a one-size-fits-all to a tailor-made approach, it will be crucial to ensure that those wanting to get closer to the EU have this opportunity, adapted to their ambitions and pace.
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.
This Opinion was proposed in line with the Bureau's guidelines for Sibiu (and beyond). On the basis of an analysis of the internal implications for the EU and international trade related issues, the opinion will explore the impact of trade in enhancing the EU's own economic performance.
When it comes to development and EU-Africa relations, the EESC consistently emphasised the importance of sustainable development and cooperation based on the rule of law and the respect for human rights. Initiatives focused on trade, investment and business relations with Africa could be welcomed, but not to the detriment of traditional development policies focusing on reaching the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). EU and Africa leaders agreed in 2015 at the Valletta summit on migration on setting up the EU Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF), as the main instrument of EU external migration policy. The Fund finances the development of border protection capacities, but also long-term development policy projects so as to decrease the likelihood of further migration.
The EESC considers the Joint Communication to be most timely. The world order is changing at its fastest rate for nearly thirty years, the post-war international trading order is under significant challenge, the balance of global economic power is moving eastwards and Asian global purchasing power is growing exponentially.
The EESC welcomes the emphasis in the Communication on sustainable, comprehensive and rules-based connectivity.
The EESC considers there is no better moment in the history of European integration for the EU to lead the way by charting a new direction for peace-building worldwide.
The EESC presents The WhiteDoveWay, a metaphorical and physical route map pointing the way forward, focusing on conflict prevention, civil society involvement, and effective communication using education and information, and a European Path of Peace to physically engage citizens so they are included and empowered in the EU peace process.
The EESC calls for the new EU budget to devote greatly increased funds to conflict prevention in all EU external relations peace programmes.
The EESC strongly recommends greater involvement of civil society in the decision-making process.
The EESC calls for a serious communication effort to promote the role of education and information to deliver the EU peace-building story.
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.
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.
The Western Balkan countries have some of the lowest female labour force participation and employment rates across Europe. Almost two-thirds of working age women in the region are either inactive or unemployed. The gender gap starts early and persists across all age groups.
The report will try to find out the correlation between education, employment opportunities, family responsibilities and the nowadays status of the women in the region and to propose adequate measures for improving the situation of women in the region.