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WTO rules: Compatibility with human and labour rights

04-03-2021

Supply chains are increasingly international, but many of EU's trade partners fail to meet both the labour standards of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and international human rights norms. EU trade policy is designed to ensure that economic development complies with World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, while upholding human rights and high labour standards. WTO rules require members to comply with a set of basic free trading principles, in particular national treatment and most-favoured ...

Supply chains are increasingly international, but many of EU's trade partners fail to meet both the labour standards of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and international human rights norms. EU trade policy is designed to ensure that economic development complies with World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, while upholding human rights and high labour standards. WTO rules require members to comply with a set of basic free trading principles, in particular national treatment and most-favoured nation status. When a member wishes to take a trade-affecting measure that departs from WTO rules, they can justify the action on the basis of general exceptions. Whereas there is no specific provision in the WTO rules on human rights, according to case law and precedents, the general exception can sometimes allow trade-restricting measures based on human rights concerns. Yet, the open nature of WTO-rules means that members must devise trade-restrictive measures carefully, and that the dispute settlement process can involve complex legal interpretation if litigation arises. The uncertainty surrounding the compatibility between WTO rules and human and labour rights is attracting growing attention, generating calls for WTO reform. Another WTO framework that has been the subject of a long-standing debate on whether its flexibility provisions are sufficient to protect human rights and in particular the right to health is the Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). In the context of the coronavirus pandemic, the debate has refocused on the need to waive some TRIPS provisions. This briefing provides an overview of complex issues relating to human rights and WTO rules. It does not argue for a specific interpretation or position, and does not attempt to bring final clarification on aspects still disputed among legal experts.

Enforcement Regulation review

13-01-2021

The blockage, since December 2019, of the Appellate Body of the Dispute Settlement Body of the World Trade Organization (WTO) creates legal gaps for the enforcement of international trade rules. To bridge these gaps, the European Commission proposed to broaden the scope of Regulation (EU) No 654/2014 concerning the exercise of the EU's rights for the application and enforcement of international trade rules ('the Enforcement Regulation'). The European Parliament is scheduled to vote at first reading ...

The blockage, since December 2019, of the Appellate Body of the Dispute Settlement Body of the World Trade Organization (WTO) creates legal gaps for the enforcement of international trade rules. To bridge these gaps, the European Commission proposed to broaden the scope of Regulation (EU) No 654/2014 concerning the exercise of the EU's rights for the application and enforcement of international trade rules ('the Enforcement Regulation'). The European Parliament is scheduled to vote at first reading during the January plenary session on the text agreed in trilogue with the Council.

Extraterritorial sanctions on trade and investments and European responses

20-11-2020

Recent US measures directed against Iran, Cuba and Russia (North Stream 2) have become indirectly a critical challenge for the European Union as well. As they purport to deter economic actors under EU jurisdiction from engaging with target countries, they have an important extraterritorial dimension, which affects EU business and individuals and ultimately the sovereignty of the EU and its Member States. A review of the existing sanction regimes and of the geopolitical context reveals that other ...

Recent US measures directed against Iran, Cuba and Russia (North Stream 2) have become indirectly a critical challenge for the European Union as well. As they purport to deter economic actors under EU jurisdiction from engaging with target countries, they have an important extraterritorial dimension, which affects EU business and individuals and ultimately the sovereignty of the EU and its Member States. A review of the existing sanction regimes and of the geopolitical context reveals that other international players and the PR China in particular may follow suit in using such measures. The study shows that extraterritorial sanctions have important economic implications, particularly for the EU and its vulnerabilities. Extraterritorial sanctions also raise critical questions as to their legality under general international law, WTO law and other specific international rules. The EU is especially affected by these measures and has taken some measures already in response. These could be improved and additional measures could be taken, as the policy recommendations set out.

Autor externo

Tobias STOLL, Steven BLOCKMANS, Jan HAGEMEJER, Christopher A. HARTWELL, Henner GÖTT, Kateryna KARUNSKA, Andreas MAURER

EU-US dispute over civil aircraft subsidies

17-11-2020

Since the 1980s onset of intensified sales competition between American and European civil aircraft manufacturers, aircraft trade has been a point of contention in transatlantic trade. Between 1992 and 2004, the Bilateral Agreement on Trade in Large Civil Aircraft regulated the permitted levels of support to aircraft manufacturers. In 2003, Europe's Airbus sold more large civil aircraft than United States-owned Boeing for the first time. The following year, the USA renounced the agreement and launched ...

Since the 1980s onset of intensified sales competition between American and European civil aircraft manufacturers, aircraft trade has been a point of contention in transatlantic trade. Between 1992 and 2004, the Bilateral Agreement on Trade in Large Civil Aircraft regulated the permitted levels of support to aircraft manufacturers. In 2003, Europe's Airbus sold more large civil aircraft than United States-owned Boeing for the first time. The following year, the USA renounced the agreement and launched a World Trade Organization (WTO) case over State aid given to Airbus. The European Union filed a parallel case against US subsidies to Boeing. Following a long-standing dispute, the WTO authorised US imposition of countermeasures worth nearly US$7.5 billion in 2019. In October 2020, in a mirror case brought by the EU against the US subsidies to Boeing, the EU was authorised to impose retaliatory tariffs. On 9 November, the EU imposed these tariffs, on US$4billion worth of US aircraft, food and drink production. In addition to the tariffs, the aviation industry has been hard-hit by the coronavirus crisis. Joe Biden's success in the recent Presidential election strengthen hopes for a negotiated solution to the dispute.

Commitments made at the hearing of Valdis Dombrovskis Commissioner for Trade

08-10-2020

The Commission Executive Vice-President/Commissioner-designate, Valdis Dombrovskis, appeared before the European Parliament on 02 October 2020 to answer questions put by MEPs from the Committee on International Trade, in association with the Committees on Foreign Affairs, on Economic and Monetary Affairs, on Development and on Budgets. During the hearing, he made a number of commitments which are highlighted in this document. These commitments refer to his portfolio as Trade Commissioner, as described ...

The Commission Executive Vice-President/Commissioner-designate, Valdis Dombrovskis, appeared before the European Parliament on 02 October 2020 to answer questions put by MEPs from the Committee on International Trade, in association with the Committees on Foreign Affairs, on Economic and Monetary Affairs, on Development and on Budgets. During the hearing, he made a number of commitments which are highlighted in this document. These commitments refer to his portfolio as Trade Commissioner, as described in the mission letter sent to him by Ursula von der Leyen, President-elect of the European Commission, including: - A level playing field for all; - Strengthening Europe’s global leadership; - Trade for sustainable development and climate action

WTO e-commerce negotiations

05-10-2020

While e-commerce represents an increasing portion of the economy, international regulation of e-commerce is lagging behind. In 2017, the WTO Ministerial Conference issued a Joint Statement Initiative signalling the intention to launch plurilateral e-commerce talks. In January 2019, in the margins of the World Economic Forum in Davos, 76 of 164 WTO members, among them the EU, Australia, China, Japan, and the USA launched e commerce negotiations. Members seek a high-standard outcome building on WTO ...

While e-commerce represents an increasing portion of the economy, international regulation of e-commerce is lagging behind. In 2017, the WTO Ministerial Conference issued a Joint Statement Initiative signalling the intention to launch plurilateral e-commerce talks. In January 2019, in the margins of the World Economic Forum in Davos, 76 of 164 WTO members, among them the EU, Australia, China, Japan, and the USA launched e commerce negotiations. Members seek a high-standard outcome building on WTO agreements, but the legal form of the deal is not yet clear. Participants wish to modernise trade rules to fit the digital age and show that the WTO's negotiating function can deliver. Key issues in the negotiations include e-contracts and e-signatures, data flows, data localisation requirements, disclosure of source code, and customs duties on electronic transmissions. While some divergences persist, in particular on data flows and privacy, the talks are progressing with a view to deliver a consolidated draft text by the end of 2020.

Understanding the financing of intergovernmental organisations: A snapshot of the budgets of the UN, NATO and WTO

23-09-2020

Access to stable and adequate financial resources is a crucial condition for the realisation of the global goals of intergovernmental organisations (IGOs). In recent decades, alongside global political changes and the evolution in the role of multilateral cooperation, the resourcing and budgetary management of IGOs have also changed. Moreover, funding available to IGOs has become ever more diversified and complex both in terms of its origin and type. This briefing presents selected aspects of the ...

Access to stable and adequate financial resources is a crucial condition for the realisation of the global goals of intergovernmental organisations (IGOs). In recent decades, alongside global political changes and the evolution in the role of multilateral cooperation, the resourcing and budgetary management of IGOs have also changed. Moreover, funding available to IGOs has become ever more diversified and complex both in terms of its origin and type. This briefing presents selected aspects of the financing of three of the world's largest IGOs: the United Nations (UN), the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). It presents the size and evolution of their budgets as well as the main contributing countries to these budgets, with a particular focus on the EU Member States. The analysis is based mainly on budgetary data for the financial year 2018.

European Union involvement in the United Nations system: Broad partnership based on shared commitment to multilateralism

22-09-2020

Over the years, the EU has become a key player in the United Nations system. The UN remains an organisation of sovereign states, and this is reflected in the functioning of its bodies, agencies and programmes. The EU enjoys observer status in many of these and is the only international organisation to have secured enhanced observer status in the UN General Assembly. The EU leverages its influence through its significant financial contribution to the UN system, through its enhanced partnerships with ...

Over the years, the EU has become a key player in the United Nations system. The UN remains an organisation of sovereign states, and this is reflected in the functioning of its bodies, agencies and programmes. The EU enjoys observer status in many of these and is the only international organisation to have secured enhanced observer status in the UN General Assembly. The EU leverages its influence through its significant financial contribution to the UN system, through its enhanced partnerships with various entities within the UN system, and through close coordination with its Member States on positions to be defended in the organisation.

Trade and competitiveness policies in the European Council

10-03-2020

In recent years, international trade has gained increasing visibility on the European Council agenda. A high level of economic interconnectedness and the ineluctable rise of emerging economies on the world stage, notably China, have highlighted differences across economic systems and divergences over the impact of certain policies and practices in the global economy. Moreover, the United States administration's pursuit of an 'America first' foreign policy has been accompanied by a trade policy aimed ...

In recent years, international trade has gained increasing visibility on the European Council agenda. A high level of economic interconnectedness and the ineluctable rise of emerging economies on the world stage, notably China, have highlighted differences across economic systems and divergences over the impact of certain policies and practices in the global economy. Moreover, the United States administration's pursuit of an 'America first' foreign policy has been accompanied by a trade policy aimed primarily at reducing trade deficits with partners. The existential threat which the World Trade Organization now faces, as the core of the multilateral trading system, has compounded growing trade tensions and translated into a highly unstable global environment. The European Council has reacted to these developments promptly, with the last three years seeing the adoption of measures to strengthen the European Union's capacity to address such challenges. It has placed high emphasis on the need for the EU to be able to defend itself against unfair trade practices, through strengthened defence instruments, greater surveillance of foreign direct investment, and broader access to public procurement markets abroad. The objectives set out in its Strategic Agenda for 2019-24 reflect a need for a more assertive and united European Union on the global stage, able to tackle the technological and environmental challenges of the coming decade.

Commitments made at the hearing of Phil HOGAN, Commissioner-designate - Trade

22-11-2019

The Commissioner-designate, Phil Hogan, appeared before the European Parliament on 30 September 2019 to answer questions from MEPs in the Committee on International Trade (INTA). During the hearing, he made a number of commitments which are highlighted in this document. These commitments refer to his portfolio, as described in the mission letter sent to him by Ursula von der Leyen, President-elect of the European Commission, including: - A level playing field for all; - Strengthening Europe’s global ...

The Commissioner-designate, Phil Hogan, appeared before the European Parliament on 30 September 2019 to answer questions from MEPs in the Committee on International Trade (INTA). During the hearing, he made a number of commitments which are highlighted in this document. These commitments refer to his portfolio, as described in the mission letter sent to him by Ursula von der Leyen, President-elect of the European Commission, including: - A level playing field for all; - Strengthening Europe’s global leadership; - Trade for sustainable development and climate action; and - Making trade more transparent.

Futuros eventos

07-09-2021
EPRS online policy roundtable: What is the future of (European) sovereignty?
Outro evento -
EPRS
08-09-2021
EPRS online policy roundtable: Statistics, Data and Trust: Why figures matter [...]
Outro evento -
EPRS
21-09-2021
EPRS online Book Talk with David Harley: Matters of Record: Inside European Politics
Outro evento -
EPRS

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