Chapter 19 Tackling labour rights and environmental protection through trade and Sustainable Development Chapters: the European approach
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The present chapter seeks to clarify the EU policy direction as regards trade and sustainable development within its trade agenda by providing a comparative analysis of selected TSD standards, taking particular account of the EU-Korea, as the first “new generation” FTA, and the ensuing trade agreements with Colombia, Peru and Ecuador, Central America, Singapore, Vietnam, Canada, Japan and Mexico, as well as recent strategic EU Commission documents on TSD reform. It also touches upon the current trends as regards the TSD enforcement, including the EU’s consultations with the Republic of Korea on its failure to implement core labour commitments and the implications of the European Court of Justice’s Opinion 2/15 implying the possibility to withdraw trade concessions in case of breach of TSD clauses. It finds some marginal improvements as regards the scope of TSD chapters, especially in the most recent EU trade agreements, however, it still concludes that the current approach with a limited substantive scope combined with the weak enforcement mechanism might undermine the effectiveness of implementation of the TSD chapters. Also, not much has been offered under the strategic EU Commission’s documents on the TSD reform. At the same time, the paper finds a substantial potential in keeping up a sustained dialogue between the trading partners with the involvement of civil society groups, which, however, could be also stepped up in future negotiations.

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