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The future of sustainable development chapters in EU free trade agreements

23-07-2018

Sustainable development is an important part of the EU trade policy since it gets on meeting the needs of the present whilst ensuring future generations can meet their own needs. All EU FTAs include a Trade and Sustainable Development (TSD) chapter, which seeks to ensure that partners follow international requirements in the three pillars that compose sustainable development: economic, environmental and social. The adoption of the UN Agenda 2030 in 2015, which sets 17 Sustainable Development Goals ...

Sustainable development is an important part of the EU trade policy since it gets on meeting the needs of the present whilst ensuring future generations can meet their own needs. All EU FTAs include a Trade and Sustainable Development (TSD) chapter, which seeks to ensure that partners follow international requirements in the three pillars that compose sustainable development: economic, environmental and social. The adoption of the UN Agenda 2030 in 2015, which sets 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 targets, and the 2015 Paris agreement on climate change, have pushed the Commission to review its TSD chapter and to table a new proposal, identifying 15 action points drawn from the large debate with member states, the European Parliament as well as the civil society launched eight months before. In order to feed the forthcoming debates within the European Union institutions, academic experts in the three dimensions of the sustainable development as well as representatives of the European Union institutions have been invited to the workshop to share their views, not only on the binding aspect of TSD provisions, but also on how various European Union policies can be worked together to achieve the best results.

Údar seachtarach

Mr Damian RAESS Ms Evita SCHMIEG Mr Tancrède VOITURIEZ

Enhancing EU actions on economic, social and cultural rights within its human rights policy

22-02-2018

Article 21 of the Treaty on the European Union (TEU) affirms that the EU’s external action should be guided by the principle of ‘the universality and indivisibility of human rights’. However, economic, social and cultural rights (ESC rights) have received less attention than their civil and political counterparts within this sphere of EU activity. This study analyses the progress made by the EU in implementing its commitment to respect, protect and fulfil ESC rights in its external action, making ...

Article 21 of the Treaty on the European Union (TEU) affirms that the EU’s external action should be guided by the principle of ‘the universality and indivisibility of human rights’. However, economic, social and cultural rights (ESC rights) have received less attention than their civil and political counterparts within this sphere of EU activity. This study analyses the progress made by the EU in implementing its commitment to respect, protect and fulfil ESC rights in its external action, making specific reference to three such rights – namely the right to just and favourable conditions of work, the right to an adequate standard of living and the right to education. This study also identifies structural obstacles that may be impeding the ability of the EU to promote these rights in an effective manner, and offers a set of concrete recommendations which aim to further enhance EU action in this regard.

Údar seachtarach

Annabel EGAN, Ireland; Laurent PECH, Colm O’CINNEIDE

De jure versus de facto labour rights in China

20-06-2017

For China, striking the right balance between using its abundant, cheap workforce as a competitive advantage and protecting labour rights has been a major challenge. Although China has developed a considerable body of law governing labour relations, there is still a huge gap between the labour rights on the statute books and those enjoyed by workers in practice. Over-riding economic interests to attract foreign investors and to boost economic growth have seriously undermined effective labour rights ...

For China, striking the right balance between using its abundant, cheap workforce as a competitive advantage and protecting labour rights has been a major challenge. Although China has developed a considerable body of law governing labour relations, there is still a huge gap between the labour rights on the statute books and those enjoyed by workers in practice. Over-riding economic interests to attract foreign investors and to boost economic growth have seriously undermined effective labour rights enforcement. China's vanishing demographic dividend may require a new balance.

Labour rights in Export Processing Zones with a focus on GSP+ beneficiary countries

15-06-2017

The European Union’s GSP+ scheme provides trade concessions to beneficiary countries and obliges them to ratify and effectively implement key international conventions on human rights and labour rights. The sectoral gains of GSP+ have thus far been concentrated on exports of apparel, textiles and processed fish. Such sectors are often located in Export Processing Zones (EPZs) where the governance of labour rights may differ from the rest of the country and fall below international legal standards ...

The European Union’s GSP+ scheme provides trade concessions to beneficiary countries and obliges them to ratify and effectively implement key international conventions on human rights and labour rights. The sectoral gains of GSP+ have thus far been concentrated on exports of apparel, textiles and processed fish. Such sectors are often located in Export Processing Zones (EPZs) where the governance of labour rights may differ from the rest of the country and fall below international legal standards. This study examines the apparel sectors of Pakistan, Mongolia and Sri Lanka and the processed fish sector of the Philippines. The importance of EPZs to exports under the GSP+ varies by country and sector. Only in Pakistan are EPZs legally exempt from rights relating to freedom of association and collective bargaining. But restrictions on these and other rights in practice remain widespread, and are not confined to EPZs. Efforts to promote labour rights through the GSP+ should focus on key export sectors benefitting from the scheme and consider EPZs alongside other sites of the supply chain where exploited workers are based.

Údar seachtarach

Benjamin RICHARDSON, James HARRISON and Liam CAMPLING

World Day Against Child Labour

09-06-2017

The International Labour Organization (ILO) introduced the World Day Against Child Labour in 2002, as part of their efforts to eradicate this unacceptable phenomenon. The day is observed each year on 12 June, and this year the focus will be on the impact of conflicts and disasters. It is also an opportunity to consider what measures have been taken at international and EU level to prevent child labour, and with what success.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) introduced the World Day Against Child Labour in 2002, as part of their efforts to eradicate this unacceptable phenomenon. The day is observed each year on 12 June, and this year the focus will be on the impact of conflicts and disasters. It is also an opportunity to consider what measures have been taken at international and EU level to prevent child labour, and with what success.

EU flagship initiative on the garment sector

21-04-2017

After the 2013 Rana Plaza garment factory tragedy in Bangladesh, the European Commission pledged to table an EU-wide flagship initiative to boost responsible management of the garment industry. To date, this initiative has yet to be launched. A motion for a Parliament resolution, due to be voted at the April II part-session, calls on the Commission to put forward a legislative proposal and focuses, among other things, on introducing mandatory due diligence for the supply chains in the industry.

After the 2013 Rana Plaza garment factory tragedy in Bangladesh, the European Commission pledged to table an EU-wide flagship initiative to boost responsible management of the garment industry. To date, this initiative has yet to be launched. A motion for a Parliament resolution, due to be voted at the April II part-session, calls on the Commission to put forward a legislative proposal and focuses, among other things, on introducing mandatory due diligence for the supply chains in the industry.

TTIP and Labour Standards

14-06-2016

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will follow EU and US recent trade policy practice to include labour provisions. These could limit the risk that liberalisation results in social dumping and promote upward change. This Policy Department A study concludes that the EU could take a precautionary stance and employ various instruments that increase the chances that TTIP will have positive social consequences. TTIP may combine the strengths of the EU and US approaches to labour ...

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will follow EU and US recent trade policy practice to include labour provisions. These could limit the risk that liberalisation results in social dumping and promote upward change. This Policy Department A study concludes that the EU could take a precautionary stance and employ various instruments that increase the chances that TTIP will have positive social consequences. TTIP may combine the strengths of the EU and US approaches to labour provisions, while improving their weaknesses. More analysis of the social consequences of liberalisation and labour provisions might be stimulated and strong flanking measures at the EU and national level be foreseen.

Údar seachtarach

Jan Orbie, Ferdi de Ville and Lore van den Putte

Improving global value chains key for EU trade

13-06-2016

Global value chains, and the related trade in intermediate goods and services, dominate today's interconnected economy. Tragic events, such as the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory in 2013, have shed new light on the operation of these chains. Pressure is mounting on the various stakeholders involved at both national and international levels to prevent and mitigate the risks of the adverse effects linked to their functioning. Although a number of promising initiatives have been launched ...

Global value chains, and the related trade in intermediate goods and services, dominate today's interconnected economy. Tragic events, such as the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory in 2013, have shed new light on the operation of these chains. Pressure is mounting on the various stakeholders involved at both national and international levels to prevent and mitigate the risks of the adverse effects linked to their functioning. Although a number of promising initiatives have been launched and some improvements have been made, much remains to be done. Promotion of sustainability and responsible management of global value chains figure prominently on the agendas of organisations such as the United Nations (UN), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the International Labour Organization (ILO). The EU also plays a part. One of the main objectives of the EU is to integrate sustainability, with its various economic, social and environmental dimensions, into all relevant internal policies and external action. Against this backdrop and building on its ongoing initiatives, existing policy frameworks and instruments, the EU is and has been encouraging efforts to promote sustainable value chains. How best to address this challenge is key to the EU's new trade and investment strategy 'Trade for all'. The new European Commission initiatives currently under development, such as the EU Garment Initiative and the EU Action Plan on Responsible Business Conduct, and the Council conclusions of May 2016 on Responsible Global Value Chains are in line with this endeavour.

The International Labour Organisation and International Trade

28-01-2016

The EU's trade policy does not exist in a vacuum. On the one hand, it is affected by international standard and rule-setting. On the other hand, the EU is itself an influential actor shaping the international trade agenda by participating in the work of international organisations and fora. This short note focuses on the International Labour Organisation.

The EU's trade policy does not exist in a vacuum. On the one hand, it is affected by international standard and rule-setting. On the other hand, the EU is itself an influential actor shaping the international trade agenda by participating in the work of international organisations and fora. This short note focuses on the International Labour Organisation.

Invisible jobs: The situation of domestic workers

08-12-2015

Domestic workers are persons engaged in household services such as childcare, care of the elderly or housekeeping – via a formal or informal employment relationship. They can be nationals of the country or migrants, and can have varied working conditions, involving living within or outside the household. More than 80% of the domestic workers in the world are women. Due to the 'invisible' and sometimes illegal nature of their job, domestic workers are often confronted by problems such as low pay ...

Domestic workers are persons engaged in household services such as childcare, care of the elderly or housekeeping – via a formal or informal employment relationship. They can be nationals of the country or migrants, and can have varied working conditions, involving living within or outside the household. More than 80% of the domestic workers in the world are women. Due to the 'invisible' and sometimes illegal nature of their job, domestic workers are often confronted by problems such as low pay, irregular residence and employment conditions, no social security or benefits, no access to childcare facilities for their own children and limited time off work. Some subgroups, such as immigrants or live-in workers, are particularly vulnerable to discrimination. Despite initiatives in several European Union Member States, domestic workers are not always offered protection by national labour laws, and opportunities for 'decent work' can be limited. The implementation by the Member States of Convention No 189 and Recom¬mendation No 201 of the International Labour Organization (ILO) could provide domestic workers with guarantees of decent work and similar working conditions to those of workers in other economic sectors.

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