2018 2017 2016

EU Commission to hold Stakeholder meeting on the establishment of a multilateral investment court


On Friday 13 April 2018, from 10:00 to 12:00, the European Commission will hold a stakeholder meeting on the multilateral reform of investment dispute resolution including the establishment of a multilateral investment court.

The Multilateral Investment Court proposed by the Commission, and now included in CETA, is a permanent body to decide investment disputes, which represents a major departure from the ad hoc arbitral system of investor-to-State dispute settlement (ISDS). The idea of a full-fledged two-tier court to deal with investor-state disputes under investment Treaty is also being discussed by the UNCITRAL III Working Group. The submission made to the Group by the EU can be found here.

In view of establishing an ever-closer cooperation between the Institutions and the civil society, at the meeting the Commission will update stakeholders on the latest developments in this area at the EU and international level and exchange views on the latest relevant EU policy developments.

To participate, register at this link before Friday 6 April.

Commission unveils a 15 steps plan to further the implementation and enforcement of Trade and Sustainable Development chapters in EU Free Trade Agreements


On 27 February 2018, Trade Commissioner Malmström presented a non-paper outlining 15 actions points to improve Trade and Sustainable Development (TSD) chapters in EU Free Trade Agreements (FTAs).

The document collects the results of an eight-months debate with the Institutions, the Member States and the civil society started by the Commission in July 2017.

In the paper, the Commission developed a set of 15 concrete and practicable actions to be taken to revamp the TSD chapters, building on recommendations received and categorised under four broad headings:

A.Working Together – Through the following actions: 1. Partnering with Member States and the European Parliament and 2. Working with international organisations;

B.Enabling and civil society including the Social Partners to play a greater role in implementation – By: 3. Facilitating the monitoring role of civil society including the Social Partners; 4. Extending the scope for civil society, including the Social Partners, to the whole FTA; 5. Taking action regarding responsible business conduct;

C.Delivering – 6. Country priorities; 7. Assertive enforcement; 8. Encourage early ratification of core international agreements; 9. Reviewing the TSD implementation effectiveness; 10. Handbook for implementation; 11. Step up resources; 12. Climate action; 13. Trade and labour;

D.Transparency and Communication – With: 14. More transparency and better communication, and 15. Time-bound response to TSD submissions.

In the view of the Commission, this list is however not exhaustive: further actions and other measures could also be taken depending on the necessity or the actual case. In this view, the Commission sees continuous engagement with Member States, the European Parliament, interested stakeholders and the public as a crucial action to continuously analyse the effectiveness of the implementation of the TSD chapters (e.g. through review clauses; annual FTA implementation reports; ex-post impact assessments).

The importance of implementing these actions to reach the full potential of trade not as a “weapon of intimidation” but rather as an instrument of growth good for “stakeholders, […] consumers, employees, the communities they work in and the environment was also reaffirmed by Trade Commissioner Malmström during her address at Amfori on March 12, 2018.

The paper is part of the broader EU Sustainable Development Strategy which aims to identify and develop actions to enable the EU to achieve a continuous long-term improvement of quality of life through the creation of sustainable communities able to manage and use resources efficiently.

The new CPTPP text released


Yesterday, the eleven states parties to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) have released the text of their new agreement, expected to be ratified by March.

The new CPTPP, renegotiated as a result of the withdrawal by the US Administration from the original TPP earlier last year, largely incorporates the previous provisions.

However, it still includes some notable changes, especially with regards to Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS).

This agreement between the sc. TPP11 constitutes an interesting development for the EU: it not only is expressly open to ratification to "any State or separate customs territory", but also it constitutes yet another reinforcement (together with ASEAN and RCEP) of the Asian region as a powerful standard-setter in international trade and investment.

The Commission publishes a report on the outcome of the second round of renegotiations of the existing EU-Chile Association Agreement


After the conclusion of the second round of negotiations with Chile for the modernisation of the existing Association Agreement, last February 6 the Commission published a report on the results achieved, as well as all negotiating textual proposals.

Overall, all seventeen negotiating groups that met on15-18 January m ade good progress.

Among other things, the parties exchanged preliminary views on the overall architecture of the future investment chapter, which, in the EU proposal, should also include access to the negotiating Investment Court System.

First meeting of the new EU Commission's expert group on EU trade agreements


Today, the new European Commission’s new expert group on EU trade agreements held its first meeting.

The initiative of setting up the Group is part of the European Commission’ broader aim to have a transparent and accountable trade policy based on consultations with all parts of European civil society.

The group is formed of European-level non-governmental organisations representing business, trade unions, consumers, the environment and other areas of interest for trade.

The number of participants to the Group and the variety of their backgrounds is intended to foster in-depth dialogue on trade in the EU and engage with the Commission in a discussion on old and new issues in the field, including the proposed multilateral Investment Court, e-commerce, trade and gender, trade and consumers, and provisions in trade agreements for smaller and medium-sized firms.

The Commission believes that the Group’s input will help it in its ongoing efforts to both ensuring that EU trade policy is state-of-the-art and progressive, and establishing a closer link with the needs and concerns of the civil society at the national level.

Council publishes the mandate given to the Commission to modernise the existing association agreement with Chile


On January 22 the Council decided to publish the mandate given to the Commission to modernise the existing Association Agreement with Chile.

The update of the EU-Chile relations, launched on November 16, 2017, aims at deepening the relations between the block and the South American country by enhancing existing cooperation on political, security and trade matters.

The publication of the Council of the EU’s mandate is especially important in terms of the Commission-led commitment to greater transparency of the EU in its external relations, by reason of the mixed political and economic nature of the Agreement.

Indeed, such decision constitutes a first-of-its-kind, as never before the Council had made public the entire negotiating mandate for this kind of agreements

The decision has been applauded by the Commission. In particular, Trade Commissioner Malmström underlined the crucial role of transparency to gain EU citizens’ trust in the work of the Institutions.

The European Commission and the European External Action Service publish report on the impact of the Generalised Scheme of Preferences for the period 2016-2017


The EU Commission and the European External Action Service published today a report and a detailed accompanying document on the impact of the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) for the period 2016-2017.

The GSP - which entered into force in 2014 - is the EU's main trade instrument to support developing countries to achieve sustainable development using the economic engines of trade. As a tool for the promotion of universal values of human rights, social justice and environmental protection, the GSP is an integral part of the Commission's "Trade for All" strategy

The GSP consists of three different arrangements that grant to developing countries privileged access to the EU market (Standard GSP, GSP+, or Special Incentive Arrangement for Sustainable Development and Good Governance and EBA - Everything But Arms). The idea is that, by having a privileged access to the single market, the developing countries party to the GPA have the opportunity generate additional revenues via international trade that can help reducing poverty and promoting sustainable development, human rights and good governance.

The report highlights an overall positive impact of the GSP on developing countries, both in economic and non economic terms. Since its entry into force, exports from countries to the EU benefitting from these tariff cuts rose by nearly a quarter to a yearly amount of Euro 63 billion. Least developed countries benefited the most: their exports to the EU increased by nearly 40% and reached €23.5 billion in 2016.The report also points out the progress made on issues such as women’s empowerment, child and forced labour, torture, illegal drugs trafficking and climate change.

The documents published today also address the shortcomings that still need to be tackled to reach the aims of the GSP, which include the implementation and enforcement of the relevant legislation by the countries benefiting of the scheme.

The EU Commission discusses with civil society the outcome of the debriefing on the WTO 11th Ministerial Conference and the way forward for the EU


On January 24 the European Commission will hold a meeting with civil society on the unsuccessful outcome of the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference, which took place in Buenos Aires, from 10 to 13 December 2017.

The meeting aims at a views’ exchange between the Commission and the civil society on the WTO Conference, which will also help the European Institution delineate its position in the ongoing discussions with other WTO Members on the way forward for the WTO.

To register for the meeting and for the provisional list of the organisations that have registered to participate, follow this link.