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.
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 members of the DAG debriefed on the results of the meeting with Colombia and Peru under the Trade and Sustainable Development Title, which took place on 7-8 December in Brussels . The representatives of the European External Action Service (EEAS) presented information about the EU relations and cooperation with Colombia and Peru. The Representatives of the DG Trade informed the members of the DAG on recent developments regarding the Trade and Sustainable development chapter as well as on their recent mission to Ecuador. The Group held then an internal debate on the topics to be selected for the next joint meetings, on the state of play of constitution of DAGs in Colombia and Peru and on the rights of indigene communities in Peru.
During the 5th EU-Korea Civil Society Forum (CSF), participants will discuss labour standards with the ILO representative, including progress achieved by both Parties to the Agreement as well as the next steps in the ratification and effective implementation of the ILO fundamental and other up-to-date conventions. Both DAGs also will exchange information about the role of civil society in the EU and the Republic of Korea in the development and implementation of the climate change policy at national, EU and international level. They then will adopt final conclusions.
The discussion focussed on the preparation (topics, stakeholders, organizational aspects) of the Civil Society Forum with Korea and the Workshop on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), held In February in Brussels (20-21 February 2017).
The 8th meeting of the EU Advisory Group for the EU-Central America Association Agreement will take place on February 1st in Brussels.
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 EU DAG will discuss with a representative of the European Parliament the progress in work on its report on implementation of the EU-Korea FTA. The European Commission will update participants on the state of play and the next steps in the implementation of the EU-Korea joint project related to the ILO Convention No. 111. The EU DAG will discuss moreover preparations for the next EU-Korea Civil Society Forum.
During the meeting, the representatives of the European External Action Service (EEAS) will present information about the EU relations and cooperation with Colombia and Peru. The EU DAG Chair will inform the Group about the outcomes of the civil society meeting organized in Bogota on 6 October 2016 with a view of establishing the Colombian DAG. Moreover, the Commission representative will provide information about the Ecuador's accession to the Agreement, as well as about preparations for the next meeting with Colombia and Peru under the Trade and Sustainable Development Title planned for 7-8 December in Brussels. The Group will hold then an internal debate to choose topics for the meeting with Colombia and Peru and to organize cooperation with civil society in both countries
The EESC Employers' Group is organising a seminar on "Strengthening European Growth and Competitiveness: Proactive Trade Agenda – NOW!" taking place on 26 October in Helsinki and jointly organized with the Confederation of Finnish Industries and the International Chamber of Commerce, ICC Finland.
Trade and Investment are hugely important for the EU: 1 in 7 EU jobs depend on exports. The EU cannot risk falling behind in the global race to build a wide and ambitious network of free trade agreements. The signing of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement (involving 12 countries and 40% of world GDP) is a timely reminder of this. This seminar, which will be attended by many of our Members together with Finnish employers and entrepreneurs, politicians and academics aims to examine how to best contribute positively to the debate as trade agreements (TTIP - TISA - CETA - EU-JAPAN) increasingly become a top political issue.
During the meeting, the Commission representative will provide information about the ex-post evaluation of the EU-Korea FTA, as an example of an evaluation of a trade agreement being in force. A similar evaluation of the implementation of the trade pillar of the EU-Central America Association Agreement is scheduled for 2018 and the EU Advisory Group would like to prepare for its future contribution to that process. The Commission will also discuss with the Group the follow-up to the meetings with Central America held in Honduras in June 2016 and the preparation for next year's meetings, which will take place in Brussels. The Group may also have an opportunity to discuss with the ILO representatives implementation of the project related to respect for labour standards, funded by the EU and delivered by the ILO in El Salvador and Guatemala.