Environmental policiesPolicy and Affairs

International trade: EU wants sanctions for climate partners

To strengthen sustainability standards in international trade

(Sustainabilityenvironment.com) – The EU will impose sanctions on those who do not respect the sustainability standards written in international trade treaties. It is the proposal put on the table by the Commission to give more credibility to the rules written into the agreements but, often, disregarded without any consequences whatsoever. The measure covers environmental, climate, and social (labour) aspects and will apply both to future treaties and to those currently being negotiated.

It can therefore become a topic on the agenda in the negotiations between Brussels and the Mercosur area (Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay), which have run aground in recent months precisely on environmental issues with a clash between Macron and Bolsonaro on deforestation. But the dossier could also land on the desks where the TTIP, the free trade treaty with the United States, is “frozen”.

The main focus is on the implementation and implementation” of sustainability measures in international trade, said European Commission Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis. “We need to ensure that sustainability commitments do not just remain on paper, but that they materialize on the ground,” he added.

How will it work in practice? In the international trade treaties it concludes, the EU includes clauses that bind the contracting parties to comply with climate and environmental standards in line with the Paris Agreement and working standards that follow the ILO guidelines, the International Labour Organisation. Although there is a mechanism for settling disputes, it is in fact a blunt instrument. This is where sanctions come in: the EU reserves the right to impose sanctions on its partners as a last resort if this mechanism does not deliver the desired results.

“Only in the last instance, in case of blatant and persistent violations of the fundamental provisions of the TSD, will we apply sanctions following the dispute procedure”, Dombrovskis specified referring to the chapters of the treaties on trade and sustainable development (Trade and Sustainable Development).

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