Sunday

5th Feb 2023

EU to sanction trade partners breaching labour, climate rules

  • Sanctions would apply to future trade agreements currently under negotiation, but not retrospectively (Photo: Neil Palmer (CIAT))
Listen to article

EU trading partners who breach international labour standards or climate commitments, face being slapped with sanctions, under EU Commission proposals on Wednesday (22 June).

"While our approach should remain centred on cooperation and engagement, there may be circumstances where sanctions are warranted," EU trade commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis said in a news conference.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Dombrovskis was referring to circumstances where a partner country breaches the principles of the International Labour Organization and commitments under the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.

But the commission insisted that sanctions will remain the last resort.

The proposal comes after civil society organisations and MEPs raised concerns over, for example, child labour and deforestation risks not being properly addressed in trade agreements between the EU and third countries.

Sanctions would apply to future trade agreements currently under negotiation, but not to existing trade agreements or those finalised but not yet ratified — such as the controversial EU-Mercosur trade deal.

Nevertheless, many modern trade agreements such as those with Japan or Mexico already include sustainability chapters.

The European Union is currently involved in negotiations with New Zealand, Australia, and India, and wants to launch talks with Indonesia soon.

The new sanctions approach could be first applied to the trade agreement being negotiated with New Zealand since talks are very advanced, Dombrovskis said.

But EU member states will have to greenlight the commission's inclusion of the sanctions regime into each new trade agreement.

The proposals come after 15 EU countries called on the commission to accelerate the work to finalise and ratify trade agreements to increase the EU's overall credibility as "a serious trade partner".

They argued that the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the world's largest trade agreement including China, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and Australia, should be a "wake-up call" for Europe.

Nevertheless, the new sanction scheme could be considered an obstacle to completing future negotiations.

Opinion

Amazon deforestation and the EU-Mercosur trade deal

Regrettably, it seems that the EU has turned a blind eye to deforestation in the Amazon. So much so that over 400 NGOs are pushing 'Stop EU-Mercosur', to derail the free trade agreement with South America.

Opinion

More money, more problems in EU answer to US green subsidies

Industrial energy-intense sectors, outside Germany and France, will not move to the US. They will go bust, as they cannot compete in a fragmented single market. So to save industry in two member states, we will kill the rest?

Latest News

  1. Greece faces possible court over 'prison-like' EU-funded migration centres
  2. How the centre-right can take on hard-right and win big in 2024
  3. Top EU officials show Ukraine solidarity on risky trip
  4. MEPs launch anonymous drop-box for shady lobbying secrets
  5. Hawkish ECB rate-rise 'puts energy transition at risk'
  6. MEPs push for greater powers for workers' councils
  7. How Pavel won big as new Czech president — and why it matters
  8. French official to take on Islamophobia in EU

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Party of the European LeftJOB ALERT - Seeking a Communications Manager (FT) for our Brussels office!
  2. European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual & Reproductive Rights (EPF)Launch of the EPF Contraception Policy Atlas Europe 2023. 8th February. Register now.
  3. Europan Patent OfficeHydrogen patents for a clean energy future: A global trend analysis of innovation along hydrogen value chains
  4. Forum EuropeConnecting the World from the Skies calls for global cooperation in NTN rollout
  5. EFBWWCouncil issues disappointing position ignoring the threats posed by asbestos
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us