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.
The external dimension of European industrial policy – is the EU's trade policy really taking the interests of European industry into account?
In the Committee's view, the right to food is a fundamental citizenship right, as is the right of civil society to intervene in all aspects of this issue; moreover, it considers global food security to be a fundamental human right.
A week of EESC outstanding engagements on Trade and sustainable development (TSD) is proof that the voice of civil society matters when it comes to delivering a truly sustainable trade policy. It is also the result of relentless efforts to bring clear, relevant and operational recommendations to the table by means of its opinions. The debate is at its peak as the EU Commission reviews its own approach to TSD and Domestic Advisory Groups (DAGs).
The ongoing COVID-19 crisis has shown the fragility of global supply chains. It has also exposed the vulnerability of workers and the adverse social, health and safety impacts of business operations in today’s supply chains. ...
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) firmly believes that infringements of human rights can be better prevented when there is an internationally agreed binding standard implemented and protected by states. Therefore, in an opinion adopted at its December plenary session, the EESC supports the United Nations Human Rights Council initiative to adopt a binding UN treaty to regulate businesses activities, including sanctions in case of violation of international human rights law.