EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström released her five-year ‘Trade for All’ strategy in October 2015, which acknowledges growing public concern over the EU’s trade policies. We identify five areas that need revision in order to more equitably distribute the benefits and costs of the EU’s trade policy: global value chains; energy imports; sustainable development; investment protection; transparency.
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a proposed free-trade agreement (FTA) between the European Union (EU) and the United States (US) that, if completed, would be the largest bilateral FTA in the world, and transform transatlantic commerce. Trade volumes between the EU and US are very high, energy remains an important exception, largely due to the US ban or limit on crude oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports. Unsurprisingly the focus of EU negotiators is to end these limitations, but if the hope of cheap energy is one side of the coin, there is another: cheaper fossil energy means higher carbon emissions from increased consumption while crowding out renewable sources, all of which runs counter to the EU’s ‘40/27/27’ climate and energy targets for 2030.
The European Commission’s proposed Investment Court System for the EU-US trade deal is a largely cosmetic rebranding, civil society groups have said, giving special privileges to foreign investors and undermining national and EU legal systems. The ‘new’ proposal keeps these major flaws of Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) intact – while the court’s establishment and running would be paid for by European taxpayers, according to sustainable transport group Transport & Environment (T&E) and environmental law organisation ClientEarth.
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.
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.