The power of trade partnerships: together for green and just economic growth

EESC opinion: The power of trade partnerships: together for green and just economic growth

Practical information:

  1. Composition of study group
  2. Administrator / Assistant in charge: Marco Ristori / Karen Aghadjian
  3. Contact

Key Points:


  • Supports the comprehensive review setting a new benchmark on Trade and Sustainable Development (TSD) and appreciates that the Commission followed a number of its recommendations in the action points, in particular on reinforcing the role of civil society and the Domestic Advisory Groups (DAGs).
  • Sees further opportunities to strengthen the DAGs, at the level both of the agreement as well as of its implementation. However, it regrets that no action is being taken to involve civil society more thoroughly during the negotiation process.
  • Emphasises the need for clearer and more detailed TSD provisions to better define roadmaps and help both trade partners to better understand what is expected of them. It regrets that Just Transition is not made an overarching concept.
  • Welcomes the new policy orientation, ranging from a more results-oriented approach, through increased transparency and a reinforced role for civil society, to targeted support, while also increasing the level of commitment by including the possibility of trade sanctions as a last resort.
  • Considers these elements as "part of the package" in all agreements, which needs to be implemented through a targeted and country-specific approach with tailored objectives. It expects the Commission to implement them within the different trade systems and across the different trade agreements, including existing agreements as much as possible.
  • Welcomes the aim of mainstreaming sustainability across future trade agreements and highlights both environmental and social sustainability considerations in public procurement. It recognises that it is crucial to streamline the approach with other autonomous instruments for a coherent and mutually reinforcing effect.



Since the EU-Korea Free Trade Agreement (signed in 2011), all modern EU trade agreements include dedicated chapters on trade and sustainable development (TSD), with a broad set of mutually agreed commitments regarding environmental, social and labor standards. The recent EC Communication on the TSD review: The power of trade partnerships: together for green and just economic growth identifies policy priorities and key action points, which will further enhance the effectiveness of the current engagement-based approach to TSD grounded in the recognized international framework and standards- with stronger implementation and enforcement.

To this end the new approach will include the possibility of trade sanctions for breaches of core TSD provisions. In the Communication, the EC also commits to strengthening the role of the Domestic Advisory Groups in TSD application, with a focus on monitoring. This renewed approach will be applied to both ongoing and future negotiations, as appropriate and feasible.