Martins Gistelinck, Myriam, and Kerremans, Bart. (2007) Labour standards in EU-ACP relations: what explains for their limited role? In: UNSPECIFIED, Montreal, Canada. (Unpublished)
[From the introduction]. In the Preamble of the Cotonou-Agreement, both the EU and the ACP countries express being “anxious to respect basic labour rights, taking account of the principles laid down in the relevant conventions of the ILO” (OD0). This reference to ILO-type, fundamental labour rights creates many expectations with regard to the EU’s commitment to promote labour standards in ACP-countries. In practice, however, the EU seems to be reluctant to use its market power to promote compliance with fundamental labour standards, particularly when comparing with other political elements of the agreement, such as the promotion of (general) human rights, good governance and democratic principles. The question is, how can we explain this? The objectives of this paper are therefore two-fold. First of all we aim to critically review the EU’s commitment to the promotion of labour standards in ACP countries, by looking at the concrete implementation of the main political pillars of the Cotonou-Agreement since its first signature. Secondly, we will try to formulate an alternative explanation for this lack of attention for labour standards, based on a model where two elements are crucial: the prominence of the Member States when negotiating association agreement and the role played by national political parties when societal interests are to be aggregated.
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