Leading EPP Group trade MEPs have welcomed the review of the Trade and Sustainable Development policy (TSD) presented by the European Commission today (Weds), but caution that new sustainability objectives must not undermine the negotiability of EU trade agreements. They insist that sanctions should always remain an enforcement measure of last resort.
"EU trade creates European jobs and prosperity. It enables us to bring about positive change on the ground in third countries and impulse progress in labour and social rights. However, this can only continue if we manage to negotiate and deliver further successful agreements", said Iuliu Winkler MEP, EPP Group Chief Negotiator for the TSD review, and Christophe Hansen MEP, EPP Group Spokesman on International Trade.
While the main aim of the TSD review is to provide for better integration, monitoring and enforcement of sustainability provisions in EU trade agreements, it introduces for the first time the possibility of deploying sanctions in cases of consistent non-compliance and material breaches.
"Instead of relying on punitive measures, the EU needs to engage further on the potential and positive impact of trade agreements. To this end, we have to find a strategic balance between the ability to finalise negotiations by not overburdening them and the correct level of ambition needed to ultimately have more agreements ratified. Cooperation and information sharing among all actors involved in the implementation of trade agreements and the related sustainable development provisions, including at the local level, can do a lot to improve the effectiveness of TSD Chapters", said Winkler. "The EPP Group continues to stress that sanctions should only be used as a last resort measure when all other options have been exhausted. The conditions under which sanctions are triggered have to be clearly determined and transparently communicated", urged Hansen.
“At this critical time when European industry is urging policy-makers to open new markets and opportunities in a world where conflict and protectionist forces are on the rise, we would be shooting ourselves in the foot by undermining the negotiability of our trade agreements and driving prospective trade partners into the arms of Putin. This must be avoided at all costs. The Commission’s proposal strikes the right balance between negotiability and ambition, and we will see to it that this balance is maintained. Moreover, the new sustainability provisions in trade agreements should not be applied retroactively. It would be unwise to reopen already concluded negotiations, as this jeopardises our credibility and the attractiveness of trade negotiations with the EU”, concluded Hansen.
Note to editors
The EPP Group is the largest political group in the European Parliament with 176 Members from all EU Member States