Brussels Daily
11 Jul 2017


Brussels Daily

European Commission starts a debate on Trade and Sustainable Development in EU Trade Agreements

The European Commission today publishes a non-paper on trade and sustainable development (TSD) in EU trade agreements. It follows the Commission’s recent reflection paper on harnessing globalisation, which underlined the EU’s commitment to a fair, international, rules-based order based on high standards, cooperation and strengthening of multilateral institutions.

The paper, sent today from the European Commission services to the European Parliament and the Council, is intended to contribute to a debate in the coming months on:

  • whether the current Trade and Sustainable Development chapters are meeting expectations, and what could be done to improve them.
  • whether a more assertive partnership on trade and sustainable development in bilateral Free Trade Agreements should be pursued
  • whether a sanction based approach would address the shortcomings identified
  • whether any other issues related to trade and sustainable development need to be addressed.


The Commission is committed to including a chapter on Trade and Sustainable Development (TSD) in trade agreements as part of the EU’s value-based trade agenda.

There is overall strong support in the EU for including ambitious commitments on labour rights and environmental protection, as well as active role of civil society, in current and future Free Trade Agreements.

In trade and sustainable development chapters currently included in trade agreements, the EU’s partners are required to take up major international labour and environmental principles, implement them effectively, and not lower them to encourage trade or investment. The EU works with trade partners to ensure that the sustainable development aspects of the agreements are enforced and that workers’ rights and other labour standards, as well as commitments to protect the environment and natural resources are respected. It includes civil society in the process and funds projects to help with implementation.

For further information

Discussion paper

Overview of negotiations

UN agrees to start work on multilateral reform of investment dispute settlement

On 10 July 2017, the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) agreed that further work should be carried out in this forum on the issue of a multilateral reform of investment dispute settlement.

This follows a formal request from a number of countries, including the EU and its Member States, to examine this issue.

UNCITRAL is open to all UN members and observers and will work inclusively and transparently on investment dispute settlement.

You can find more details on our factsheet 

Speech: Commissioner Malmström hails ’strategic alliance’ with Japan

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström today presented to European and Japan business leaders last week’s agreement in principle on a free trade agreement with Japan, the EU’s sixth largest trading partner.

Speaking at the EU-Japan Business Summit in Brussels, the Commissioner noted the agreement would remove tariffs on 99% of EU exports to Japan; improve access to Japanese service and procurement markets; and protect high quality EU food and drink products, such as Tyroler Speck or Polska Vodka, on Japanese markets

Noting examples of small EU companies who had benefited from the EU’s previous trade deal with South Korea, the Commissioner drew attention to provisions with Japan on small and medium sized companies, as well as the removal of non-tariff barriers like unnecessary red tape. In line with the Commission’s goal for trade based on values, the agreement also includes binding and enforceable provisions on labour standards, and protecting the environment, and preserves both parties’ right to regulate in areas such as food and product safety.

The Commissioner also highlighted the importance of the agreement given the risk of rising protectionism. “There is no protection in protectionism; for every country that wants to build walls, there are those who want to build bridges “, she said.
Read the Commissioner’s speech

More information on the trade agreement between the EU and Japan

More information on the EU-Japan Business Round Table

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