Over the past years there has been a growing momentum, notably in the European Parliament, calling on the European Commission to do more to promote sustainable development through EU’s free trade agreements, especially in reassessing the Sustainable Development chapters.
Conversely, some commentators are saying that the current EU approach is working well, while others believe that more time is needed before we come to a definitive conclusion on the effectiveness of EU trade agreements in promoting human rights, labour and environmental standards. Finally, there are also those who are sceptical that the world’s problems can solely be tackled through commercial policies.
As the leading trade and sustainable development association in Brussels, FTA is actively participating in these discussions. To enable for a broader debate on this topic with key stakeholders, the association will be organising a Round Table on 11 September under the title 'TSD Chapters in EU Trade Agreements: More Complexity, Better Results?'
Notable panellists such as Ms Madelaine Tuininga, Head of Unit for Sustainable Development at DG Trade, and Mr Axel Kenes, Director for Trade Policy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belgium, will evaluate these positions, including the non-paper issued by the European Commission’s on 11 July which aims to stimulate the debate on this topic.
FTA believes that only through continuous cooperation between various stakeholders, governments and businesses can we achieve sustainable development through trade, and not by collective sanctions or disengagement. FTA also looks forward to engaging with the EU and other stakeholders during the coming months on how EU trade policy can best contribute to sustainable development.