Nearly three decades after they were first proposed, the pillars of sustainable development are still absent from the EU’s trade policy. Sustainable development is included in the EU’s trade strategies, negotiations and agreements — but in name only. The current approach still falls short of real commitment and ambition.
Unless you have buried your head in the sand over the last couple of days, you would have been hard pressed to miss the VW cheating scandal that has erupted in the United States. A tsunami of media stories have taken over the front pages of the FT, NYT, The Guardian, Le Figaro, Il Sole 24 Ore, to name a few.
The EU’s Investment Court System, announced today by the European Commission, is a mere rebranding exercise of Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) in the EU-US trade deal, sustainable transport group Transport & Environment (T&E) has said. T&E thinks that this cosmetic exercise will resolve none of the fundamental concerns about granting special privileges for foreign investors, undermining national laws and bypassing domestic courts.
Sales of asbestos, airplane engines, petrol and other environmentally harmful goods will be boosted by lower tariffs from the EU and 16 other WTO countries under a draft trade deal that is actually supposed to improve access to technologies that protect the environment, it has been revealed.
Launched in July 2014, the Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA) is being negotiated between the European Union – on behalf of its 28 member states – and 16 other members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The selection of goods for the EGA list was undertaken in secrecy and without a definition of an environmental good or selection criteria. T&E has identified around 120 items on the list of 650 goods for which we do not see any environmental justification for lowering tariffs. We argue that negotiations should open up and the assessment of what is an environmental good should be conducted by recognised experts in full transparency, on the basis of a widely accepted methodology.
EU approval of Ireland’s €42.5 million in state aid to small regional airports has been criticised for allowing public money to prop up underutilised infrastructure with questionable social and economic benefits. Four airports will receive the grants over the next four years – while the Irish government faces calls to address ‘chronic’ underinvestment in low-carbon public transport.
This is the T&E’s response to the European Commission’s public consultation on the handbook on Sustainability Impact Assessment (SIA).
This note has been developed by Transport & Environment and the European Environmental Bureau in response to the Commission request for input into developing a trade and sustainable development chapter in the ongoing European Union (EU) and United States (US) free trade agreement, otherwise known as the Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership (TTIP). The note first provides a brief overview of sustainable development before outlining a proposal for how to promote sustainable development within TTIP.
MEPs today called for EU-US cooperation to end aviation fuel tax exemptions as part of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The clear statement was in sharp contrast to the Parliament’s ambiguity on Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS), where it called for an ‘alternative system’ but with the same purpose as ISDS – leaving EU negotiators none the wiser on a final agreement that would be acceptable to MEPs.
Speech at European Commission DG Trade hearing on the Environmental Goods Agreement on 9 June 2015 by T&E senior policy officer on sustainable trade, Cecile Toubeau