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Sustainable development | Sofia, 27 February 2018

Commissioner Malmström unveils 15-point plan to make EU trade and sustainable development chapters more effective

Today, Commissioner Malmström has outlined the EU’s revamped approach to trade and sustainability in its trade agreements.

The Commissioner presented the feedback of the input collected and the way forward to improve the EU TSD chapters to EU member states at this morning's Foreign Affairs Council on trade. The paper is the culmination of a fruitful eight-month debate in the EU institutions and with a broad range of interested parties and will provide a roadmap for future work in this area.

Speaking after the meeting, Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström said: "I feel encouraged by the big interest shown in ensuring that EU trade agreements actually deliver in terms of sustainable development. We have now identified 15 practical, concrete steps that we can put in place immediately, to respond to the concerns that stakeholders have raised. This represents a revamped approach to our current policy – a collective commitment to reinforce and do more with the tools at hand. I am confident that these actions can be quickly implemented to drive progress for the respect of labour and environment goals."

The Commission launched a debate in July 2017 on how to better implement and enforce the EU's trade and sustainability chapters in its free trade agreements. At that stage, it presented a paper outlining several options in order to provoke discussion.

Since this date, the Commission has been engaging with member states, the European Parliament as well as civil society. Member states, MEPs as well as a wide variety of interested stakeholders submitted ideas, contributing to a constructive and vibrant debate.

The Commission has now identified 15 action points for which a consensus has emerged. Among those 15 points are: ensuring that countries comply with their commitments through more assertive enforcement; facilitating the monitoring role of civil society; and making EU resources available to support the implementation of sustainable development chapters in trade agreements.

The 15 actions are organised under four headings: Working Together; Enabling Civil Society; Delivering; and Communicating and Transparency.

Aside from this announcement, the Commissioner used today's informal meeting to brief member states on: the WTO Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires in December 2017; the state-of-play of various trade negotiations, including those with Mexico and Mercosur; as well as progress on the Multilateral Investment Court and the proposal on investment screening.

More information

Link to paper

Sustainable development in EU Trade