Joint hearing of the "SMEs, Crafts and Liberal professions" Category and the study group REX/433 "TTIP and its impact on SMEs"
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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 representatives of the EU and Central American Advisory Groups discussed the mandate and composition of the Advisory Groups as envisaged by the Trade and Sustainable Development Title, as well as possible ways of their cooperation and topics for future discussions. The participants were of the view that joint meetings of the Advisory Groups held back-to-back to the annual meetings of the Board on Trade and Sustainable Development and Civil Society Dialogue Forum provide a useful framework for a structured, in-depth discussion between the civil society representatives from EU and Central America. They also concurred that the Parties should facilitate presence of the Advisory Groups and other civil society representatives in the annual meetings. The participants adopted a Joint Declaration which was presented to the Civil Society Dialogue Forum and the Board on 19 November 2014.
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.
During the meeting, members of the GCI were informed by the President on the civil society meeting of EuroLat's standing parliamentary committees (22-24 May), the hearing in the Walloon Parliament concerning the current state of The EU-Colombia, Peru and the FTA of Ecuador, as well as the public with DG Trade on the current status of the Advisory Groups. They were then interviewed by the European Commission on the preparation of the 2017 Civil Society Forum and the process of Ecuador's accession to the agreement.
The 9th meeting of the EU Advisory Group for the EU-Central America Association Agreement took place on 14 October in Brussels.
With a view to gathering as much input as possible during the preparatory process for the proposed opinion from a wide range of experts, the hearing will include preliminary presentation on the governance, functioning and structure of the WTO with an exploration towards the strategic role that civil society can represent in a wider plurality of interests and a larger scope of collaboration.
With a view to gathering as much input as possible during the preparatory process for the opinion on The role of EU's trade and investment policies in enhancing EU's economic performance from a wide range of experts, the outcomes of the debate should feed into the preparation of the EESC opinion, to be adopted by the end of 2019.
The debate includes a first session focusing on the general implications of the EU's trade and investment policies on the enhancement of its internal economic performance, and a second session encompassing sustainable trade, environment and consumer policies.
During the meeting, the civil society representatives from the EU and the Republic of Korea, i.e. members of their Domestic Advisory Groups (DAGs) discussed the latest developments related to implementation of the Trade and Sustainable Development chapter of the EU-Korea FTA, as well as relations between trade and green growth, and trade and labour rights respectively.
During the meeting, the EU Domestic Advisory Group (EU DAG) discussed several aspects related to its composition and mandate provided by the Trade and Sustainable Development Title. The Group discussed also its Rules of procedure and elected Mr Giuseppe Iuliano (EESC, Workers Group) for the role of the Chair. Moreover, the representative of the European External Action Service (EEAS) provided information about the EU relations with Colombia and Peru and cooperation in a number of policy areas. The Commission representatives (DG TRADE) informed about progress achieved in implementation of the EU-Colombia and Peru Trade Agreement and its Trade and Sustainable Development Title. They also informed about the publication of the first Annual Report on this matter. The remaining part of the meeting was dedicated to a preliminary discussion concerning preparations for the meetings with Colombia and Peru in Bogota (Colombia) in June 2015.
In view of the ongoing TTIP negotiations, the EESC is organising a seminar, whose main purpose will be to be to assess the need for an energy chapter in the TTIP, in particular after the lifting of the US restrictions on crude oil exports and the impact that such a chapter might have on trade of energy goods and services, and on environmental and energy policies both in the EU and the US. Main topics: a) the impact of TTIP on the EU energy market and security of energy supplies; b) the possibility to foster a more transparent, predictable, open and non-discriminatory framework for traders and investors in energy and raw materials, by improving transparency and competition in the energy sector; c) an energy chapter in TTIP as a model to shape energy relations with other countries; d) the impact on trade in environmental goods, renewable energy and energy efficiency, aiming at contributing to the achievement of SDGs and climate change targets.