Mednarodno trgovino ureja kompleksna mešanica globalnih pravil, dogovorjenih v okviru Svetovne trgovinske organizacije ter dvostranskih in večstranskih sporazumov. Sporazumi o prosti trgovini vse bolj vplivajo na pravice državljanov. V skladu z Lizbonsko pogodbo je treba trgovinsko politiko EU izvajati v skladu z načeli in cilji zunanjega delovanja Unije, ki vključujejo spodbujanje pravne države, človekovih pravic in trajnostnega razvoja.
Po našem mnenju bi moral biti ta trend vodilno načelo trgovinskih pogajanj in odnosov EU. Člani EESO z usklajevanjem stališč in mnenj podjetij, delavcev, strokovnjakov, kmetov, potrošnikov in drugih pomembnih deležnikov prispevamo dejansko dodano vrednost. Tako lahko med pogajanji o trgovinskih sporazumih in pri njihovem izvajanju mednarodnim oblikovalce politike učinkovito seznanjamo s stališči civilne družbe in interesnih skupin. Ustanovili smo spremljevalni odbor za mednarodno trgovino, ki bo zagotavljal sodelovanje civilne družbe pri oblikovanju trgovinske politike EU. Upravljamo tudi notranje svetovalne skupine, ustanovljene v skladu s poglavjem o trgovini in trajnostnem razvoju v novi generaciji trgovinskih sporazumov EU. Te skupine, sestavljene iz predstavnikov civilne družbe (iz EESO in zunaj njega), so odgovorne za opredeljevanje težav, povezanih s trgovino in trajnostnim razvojem, pri izvajanju trgovinskega sporazuma.
The European Economic and Social Committee would like to reiterate its commitment to the WTO as the guardian of international trade and a crucible for developing rules and disciplines to ensure fair trade, the liberalisation of trade in goods and services, and transparency in trade-related policy-making.
The EU today faces an increasing demand for a constructive dialogue with civil society on trade, as seen with CETA and TTIP. Domestic advisory groups (DAG) are a great way to connect citizens with trade issues. DAG should responsibly advise on all aspects of EU Trade Agreements.
Domestic advisory groups should be advisory, consultative, institutionalized and competent to cover all provisions of FTAs.
The EESC considers that the participation of civil society in all FTAs is an indispensable element in the strategic ambitions of the external policies of the EU.
The EESC considers its participation in DAGs valuable and wishes to continue to be part of all of them.
The EESC asks budgetary authorities for an additional budget to support Domestic Advisory Groups to fulfil the expected work in terms of quantity and quality.
The EU has one of the world's most open investment regimes, and collectively EU Member States have the fewest restrictions in the world on foreign direct investment (FDI). The OECD expressly acknowledged this in its FDI Regulatory Restrictiveness Index which measures statutory barriers against foreign investment in over 60 countries.
The Commission's reflection paper of 10 May 2017 on Harnessing Globalisation recognised increasing concerns about foreign investors' strategic acquisitions of European companies with key technologies. These concerns called into question the capacity of the current regulatory framework to address them.
The EESC has played an important role in raising awareness of EU trade policy among civil society both in the EU and in third countries. The EESC encourages the Commission to strengthen its dialogue with civil society to develop the functioning of TSD chapters in current and future trade agreements. However, the EESC urges the Commission to be more ambitious in its approach, in particular with respect to strengthening effective enforceability of the commitments in TSD chapters, which is of crucial importance to the EESC. TSD chapters must be given equal weight to those covering commercial, technical or tariff issues.
The Commission recently published a Communication on a Renewed Partnership with the ACP Group of countries. ACP-EU relations are currently governed by the Cotonou Partnership Agreement that will expire in 2020, therefore the Commission has published recommendations on what the future structure should be. Last year the EESC already drafted a general opinion on the post-Cotonou framework; this new opinion will have to answer specifically to the Commission's communication.
The 2030 UN Agenda, or the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, will be one of the top global priorities over the next 15 years, yet it received very little mention in the Commission Communication "Trade for all". Trade is specifically mentioned with regard to nine SDGs (but only once in the MDGs). UNCTAD estimate that, to meet the 17 goals and the 169 targets, at least an extra US$2.5 trillion a year will need to be found - effectively from the private sector. This opinion would seek to look into this further and aim to evaluate how much of that will need to come through trade and investment.
A pro-active mindset in business is needed to open up to increasing flows of data and develop the ability to process big data. Flexible and more adaptable business models must be put in place in the context of the current transformation process.
The Commission should carry out a precise analysis of the state of play and of defensive attitudes to the free flow of data in the Member States in order to remove unjustified barriers by putting the right legal and technical provisions in place. Removing unjustified barriers to free flow of data should be an integral part of a Europe-wide industrial policy. Opening up of national markets should also be covered by the European Semester.
As a matter of principle, contractual freedom in the private sector should be respected. A general EU framework for standards is desirable but standards should in no way hamper innovation. Portability should be promoted.