Human rights and social and environmental standards in international trade agreements
Trade agreements between nations do not merely stipulate the levels of tariffs to be applied. They can also contain provisions on human rights and social and environmental standards.
Since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty in 2009, human rights have become an EU external policy priority.
There are two main challenges. Firstly, how can trade policies be aligned with European values on human rights and environmental standards? And secondly, how can they be implemented effectively, instead of remaining mere declarations of intent?
What was the Greens' position?
The Greens were positively surprised by the very progressive text proposed by a member of the EPP, which included demands on creating a World Environmental Organisation (WEO) and strengthening the status of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
The text also underlined the importance of improving access to green goods and technologies to achieve sustainable development objectives through trade.
Did other MEPs accept the Greens' position?
The Greens' proposal on bolstering environmental standards in trade agreements by making existing WTO provisions legally binding was retained in the final text, as was our proposal on improving human rights provisions by setting up a WTO Committee on Trade and Decent Work.
We also secured majority support for the demand to avoid shifting pollution-intensive industry out of Europe to countries with worse environmental standards (carbon leakage).
Which points did the Greens lose?
The Greens were unable to introduce all their amendments into the final text.
However, this text was just one of three reports on trade, which were all negotiated simultaneously and adopted on the same day, and many of our other demands, on indigenous rights and climate change for example, were incorporated into the other reports.
However, none of these texts were legally binding.
Lead MEP:Tokia Saifi (EPP)
Green MEP responsible:Keith Taylor
Staff contact:Martin Köhler (Email)
Outcome of the vote
Below you find the results of the final vote in plenary. How did the political groups vote? What about national delegations? And what was the position of your MEP?