Trade and sustainable development – a chance for innovative thinking

Sustainable development has become one of the EU’s essential goals and is now a guiding principle for both its internal and external policies. As part of this ambition, the European Commission includes specific chapters on Trade and Sustainable Development in all free trade agreements (FTA) that it concludes with third country partners. Due to the controversy surrounding trade in recent years (for example, TTIP and CETA), the European Commission has started to recognise that there needs to be stronger coherence between trade and development policies.

This paper looks at how the Trade and Sustainable Development chapters could play a crucial role in this. Currently they have little impact, mainly because they do not contain any measures for redress. As things stand, there are no consequences if a third country does not comply with the TSD chapter of a trade deal concluded with the EU.