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An analysis of the legal obligations of the EU stemming from its international trade agreements

Velluti, Samantha (2015) An analysis of the legal obligations of the EU stemming from its international trade agreements. [Conference Proceedings] (Submitted)

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    Introduction: Since the mid-1990s, the European Union (EU) has developed a sophisticated array of instruments to promote human rights in its external trade policy such as human rights clauses in bilateral trade agreements and a set of human rights criteria in the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP). In 2010, a Communication was adopted on Trade, Growth and World Affairs, which emphasized the trade-human rights nexus, by stating that the aim of the EU is to encourage the EU’s partners to promote the respect of human rights, labour standards, the environment and good governance through trade. However, the effectiveness and credibility of the EU's approach to human rights in its trade policy has been called into question because of the selective and uneven application of these human rights instruments. This and other trade-related human rights concerns have been recognized and addressed in the Council’s 2012 Strategic Framework and corresponding Action Plan for Human Rights and Democracy (“Strategic Framework”), which provides a roadmap to mainstream human rights into ‘all areas of its external action without exception’. In a similar vein, in a Communication on Trade, Growth and Development the European Commission mentioned the need for change in order to foster growth, develop synergies between trade and development policies and the importance of projecting the EU’s values and interests in the world, highlighting how the respect for human rights represents one of its core values in its external action. The 2009 Treaty of Lisbon (ToL) reinforced the EU’s external commercial competence in combination with projecting a stronger normative approach in its international relations via Articles 3(5) and 21 TEU,4 thus advancing values, principles and objectives that are presented as “European” and whose universal application is sought via explicit reference to compliance with international law. However, the promotion of human rights externally raises many challenges of vertical and horizontal consistency - requiring the EU and all Member States to speak with one voice in their external relations but also the absence of inter-institutional conflict at EU level. In addition, it is also problematic from the perspective of coherence because of the mismatch between the internal and external dimension of human rights promotion and protection, the inevitable clash between the objectives of the different EU external policies and human rights as well as the disparity in treatment between the EU’s trading partners. Against this background, the paper intends to explore and examine selected aspects of the EU’s legal obligations in its external trade policies in the light of these Treaty changes.

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    Item Type: Conference Proceedings
    Subjects for non-EU documents: EU policies and themes > External relations > international trade
    Subjects for EU documents: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Series and Periodicals: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Annual Reports: UNSPECIFIED
    Conference: European Union Studies Association (EUSA) > Biennial Conference > 2015 (14th), March 4-7, 2015
    Depositing User: Phil Wilkin
    Official EU Document: No
    Language: English
    Date Deposited: 06 Mar 2018 15:23
    Number of Pages: 17
    Last Modified: 06 Mar 2018 15:23

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