Information Session: Review of the Action Plan on Trade and Sustainable Development

SEM and the Department for Economic Policy within the Ministry for Finance and Employment, held an online information session in view of the European Commission’s ongoing online consultation on the Trade and Sustainable Development (TSD) review.

Mr David Sammut, Director for International Economic Policy, gave an overview on the topic to a number of social partners and explained the elements of the TSD review on which they are encouraged to provide their feedback to the Commission’s online consultation. Mr Sammut explained how sustainable development started being included in Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with third countries in the last 12 years, to ensure a level playing field and standards in areas such as corporate social responsibility, human and social rights, environment and climate change.

In February 2018, the European Commission presented a 15-Point Action Plan on TSD. Organised under four headings: Working Together; Enabling Civil Society; Delivering; and Communicating and Transparency; the Action Plan provides a roadmap for future work to improve the implementation and enforcement of the TSD chapters in EU free trade agreements. The Plan aims to ensure that countries comply with their commitments through more assertive enforcement, facilitate the monitoring role of civil society and make EU resources available to support the implementation of sustainable development chapters in trade agreements.

The review of this Action Plan, announced in the Trade Policy Review (TPR) Communication, will cover all relevant aspects of TSD implementation and enforcement, including the scope of commitments, monitoring mechanisms, the possibility of sanctions for non-compliance as well as the institutional set-up and resources required.

The Commission has also launched an independent study to map and compare the different approaches to implementation and enforcement of TSD provisions by a number of EU partners in their trade agreements.

The results of this consultation, open until the end of October 2021, together with the conclusions of the comparative study, will be key contributions to the TSD review.

The link to the public consultation is found here.

More information on sustainable development in EU trade can be found here.