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Since 1999 already, the EU and the Mercosur countries (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) have been negotiating a trade deal. Now a political agreement has been reached and the texts were published. The Chamber of Labour (AK) opposes the Agreement.

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The EU is currently negotiating a trade agreement with the Mercosur countries (South America) to expand mutual market access. Apart from the basic criticism of the concept of European trade agreements, the situation of human rights and environmental developments in Brazil give cause for concern. Hence, civil society organisations are urging EU decision-makers to take action.

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The past five years have been an intense period for European trade policy. AK EUROPA now takes the end of the legislative period as an opportunity for a résumé and a forecast. In doing so, the focus is on criticism aimed at the protection of corporate interests against the rights of European citizens.

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In January 2019, EU Commission published negotiation mandates for two trade agreements with the USA. The negotiations are taking place under time pressure. From the point of view of the Chamber of Labour this is not ideal for a trade agreement. In a now published AK Position Paper as well as a joint statement by the AK President and the ÖGB President, detailed comments have been made on some points of criticism.

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Éva Dessewffy

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Regarding the two negotiating mandates of the EU Commission with the USA, the Austrian Federal Chamber of Labour (BAK) considers the reduction of the originally comprehensive TTIP agenda to an agreement on the elimination of tariffs as a step in the right direction. Nevertheless, we do not approve the agreement on conformity assessment due to the missing sustainability impact analyses and no conclusive limits to the scope of the agreement.

 

 

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More protection against problematic takeovers – this is a prospect held out by the Regulation on “Establishing a framework for screening of foreign direct investments“ , which was recently adopted by the European Parliament. The decision had been proceeded by lengthy discussions on the risk potential of investments by non-EU countries (such as China, Russia or the USA) and on the possible sellout of critical European infrastructure and technology.

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On 13th February 2019, the European Parliament has adopted a trade and an investment agreement with Singapore. According to the ECJ, the ball is now in the corner of the EU Member States: they have to ratify the investment agreement at national level. The Chamber of Labour above all criticises the Investment Court System (ICS), which first and foremost serves large international corporations.

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Following a joint declaration by US President Trump and Commission President Juncker in July 2018, the European Commission has now published two mandates for the trade negotiations with the USA. One on conformity assessments and the other on industrial tariffs. However, some MEPs in the European Parliament's Committee on International Trade take a critical view.

 

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According to ECJ Advocate General Yves Bot, the Investment Court System (ICS) agreed in CETA was in conformity with EU law. In most cases, the ECJ judges follow this opinion, but not always.