The conference aims to raise the profile of trade as an essential means to secure growth and jobs in the current economic crisis, in line with the Europe 2020 strategy. The Conference will in particular look at the following issues: • Key trade-related issues, in particular those affecting Lithuania and neighbouring EU - and CIS - countries • Eastern Partnership: Progress of DCFTA negotiations • Maintaining Open and Fair Trade (Updating EU Trade Defence Instruments and related issues)
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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.
In the framework of the TTIP negotiations, the European Commission presented a draft text for the chapter on regulatory cooperation in May 2015. The objective of this chapter is to remove unnecessary obstacles to trade by improving cooperation between regulators, reducing unnecessary regulatory segmentation and improve effectiveness of regulations. The regulatory cooperation should not limit the ability of EU and Member states to regulate in public interest. The modalities of implementation of the future regulatory cooperation chapter in TTIP and the sectors covered are of great interest to civil society. The Round table enabled civil society representative to comment the proposals of the European Commission and to express their recommendations.
During the meeting, the EU Advisory Group confirmed the election of Mr Mário Soares (EESC, Workers Group) for the Chair of the Group and elected Ms Alba Ridao-Bouloumié (EUCOFEL) and Mr Gérard Karlshausen (CIFCA) for the roles of Vice-Chairs. The Group adopted also its Rules of procedure. Moreover, the EEAS representative provided information about EU relations with Central America and preparations for the EU-Latin America and Caribbean Summit planned for June 2015 in Brussels. The EC representatives provided information concerning implementation of the TSD title of the EU-Central America Association Agreement and preparations for meetings with Central American partners planned for 27-29 May 2015 in Brussels. The remaining part of the meeting, the EU Advisory Group dedicated to preparation for a joint meeting with Central American Advisory Groups, Civil Society Dialogue Forum and workshop about agricultural value chains.
During the meeting, the representative of the European External Action Service (EEAS) presented information about the EU relations and cooperation with Central America. Based on the Second Annual Report, the Commission representative provided information about the implementation of the trade pillar of the Association Agreement, changes in trade flows and work of joint bodies established by the Agreement. The EU Advisory Group discussed also preparations for the next meeting with Central America under the Trade and Sustainable Development Title, as well as the ways to better communicate its activities to the Central American partners and other relevant stakeholders.
During the meeting, the EU DAG discussed with a representative of the European Commission the preparation for the meetings with Korea under the trade and sustainable development chapter, as well as about the current business environment in Korea and presentation of the white paper of the European Chamber of Commerce in Korea. Preparations of the 6th meeting of the EU-Korea Civil Society Forum in Seoul were also discussed.
During the 8th meeting of the Domestic Advisory Group for the EU-Colombia, Peru and Ecuador FTA the new President and Vice-Chairs were elected under the new mandate. Members participated in debriefing on past activities and exchanged views on a possible work programme for the new mandate. DG TRADE provided the members with the latest information on the FTA.
During the meeting, the EU Domestic Advisory Group (EU DAG) and civil society representatives from Colombia, Peru and Ecuador discussed 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 also discussed economic, social, environmental and human rights impacts resulting from the implementation of the Agreement. The participants reflected moreover on how the civil society from the EU, Colombia, Peru and Ecuador can cooperate to promote sustainable development in the context of trade relations and prepare for the next joint meeting. The participants adopted a joint declaration summarising outcomes of their discussion and presented it to the Parties during the Open Session with civil society on 12 December.
The trade policy of the European Union has an impact on the labor market and on the living conditions of European citizens. For this reason, the Workers' Group decided to include this item in its extraordinary meeting agenda of November 5, 2013.
During the meeting, the EU Domestic Advisory Group (EU DAG) elected Mr Pascal Kerneis (European Services Forum) and Mr Koen Warmenbol (Platform Europe Peru) for the roles of Vice-Chairs. The EU DAG adopted also its Rules of procedure. Moreover, the Commission (DG TRADE) representatives provided information concerning implementation of the Trade and Sustainable Development Title and preparations for the joint meetings with Colombia and Peru planned for 16-17 June in Bogota (Colombia). The remaining part of the meeting was dedicated to preparations for a joint meeting with the Colombian civil society (DAG) representatives, including proposals for topics for future discussions.
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.