Sustainability Impact Assessments (SIA) and EU Trade Policy

Sustainability Impact Assessments (SIA) and EU Trade Policy

The EESC believes that it is crucial that all trade agreements henceforth include a monitoring mechanism which involves civil society, as the only way to guarantee that honouring of commitments and the risks and opportunities presented by the opening-up of trade in terms of sustainable development are monitored.

In order to ensure that the system is in line with sustainable development objectives, the EESC recommends in particular that SIAs:

  • form part of an ex-ante, in-itinere and ex-post evaluation,
  • be coordinated with the preliminary impact assessment effected prior to the negotiation mandate and be carried out in useful time,
  •  prioritise the detection of social and environmental risks
  • place the emphasis on a more specific, detailed assessment based on sectors or households
  • become a reference for the public debate in the European Parliament on the "analysis of consequences",
  •  involve other EU policies in the accompanying measures.

In order to make the information provided more relevant, the EESC recommends in particular that the SIA be adjusted by the following means:

  • a rebalancing amongst the three pillars,
  •  use of wide range of available methods
  • development of ecological approaches 
  • organisation of in-depth discussion with the social partners, specialists on environmental issues and representatives from the world of business

In order to organise a renewed participatory process, the EESC recommends in particular that:

  • the assessment remains accessible at all stages to all interested parties
  • the EESC be able to participate upstream by means of an opinion on the choice of indicators, the identification of consultants and the consultation methods,
  • an EESC opinion be sought on the "analysis of consequences" submitted to the European Parliament and the Council,
  • the EESC be recognised as an important partner for organising consultations and follow up with the civil societies of the partner countries, in cooperation with the EU delegations,
  • the EESC act as a facilitator to ensure that the consultation with civil society regarding the impact assessment be coordinated with the future implementation of the follow-up mechanisms laid down in agreements.