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The Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) is a multilateral agreement from the 1990s which brought together republics of the former Soviet Union with OECD countries and established a framework for trade and investment in the energy sector. However, the ECT is mainly used to protect investments in fossil fuels. This totally contradicts the goals set by the Paris Agreement and the EU 2030 and 2050 climate objectives. Furthermore, the ECT does not offer any significant benefits for EU Member States.

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Julia Wegerer

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Sandra Matzinger

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Peter Hilpold (Brussels office)

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The Covid-19 pandemic and the severe climate crisis are ever more vehemently calling into question the shape of European trade policy. Against this background, a number of urgent questions were debated during a joint webinar hosted by EPSU, AK EUROPA and the ÖGB Europabüro: which lessons are to be learned from the current crises in respect of a trade policy which is geared towards corporate interests? How can public interests be better protected? And how much rethinking is required in particular concerning the global services trade?

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A new AK study on the economic impact of the EU MERCOSUR Trade Agreement reveals serious flaws: the deal might have a negative impact on employment both in the EU and Austria; and with a forecasted GDP growth of plus 0.1 percent until 2032, the Agreement also has economically little to offer. Apart from that, methodical weaknesses in the EU impact assessment cast doubt on the scientific nature and correctness of the results.

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The Brussels Office of the Austrian Federal Chamber of Labour (AK EUROPA), the Brussels Office of the Austrian Trade Union Federation (ÖGB Europabüro) and EPSU (European Federation of Public Service Unions) would like to cordially invite you to our joint webinar "Study Launch: Trade in Services Negotiations - Risks for Domestic Regulation"

Date Monday, 22nd November 2021, 14:00
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A recent poll shows the overwhelming public support for a law, which holds companies accountable for human rights violations and environmental harms. The EU Commission has to act now and present – as announced – the proposal for an EU supply chain law.

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Based on the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP), the EU has been granting countries of the Global South easier access to the European Single market since 1971. On 22 September 2021, the European Commission presented the legislative proposal for a new GSP, which shall apply to the period 2024 to 2034. The Commission’s proposal shall toughen the scheme’s social, labour law-related, ecological and climate dimension.

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During recent years, news about terrible accidents in textile factories in the Global South have soared. Following a period of inactivity by the EU, the EU Commission will present a legislative proposal on human rights and environmental due diligence in the supply chain in October 2021. Together with 14 other human rights and labour organisations, AK EUROPA presented its demands in an open letter.

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Whilst more than 100 countries – from South Africa via Spain to the USA – are urging to waive patent rights on know-how and technologies to combat Covid-19 within the scope of the WTO, the EU is still hampering an agreement. The European Parliament in contrast sent an important signal on 9 June 2021: in the adopted resolution, it once again urges to waiver trade-related intellectual property rights for the duration of the pandemic.

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On 18th February 2021, EU Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis presented the eagerly awaited Communication on the realignment of EU trade policy. This Communication marks the end of a long lasting process and shall, according to the Commission, be the start of a paradigm change towards a sustainable but nevertheless assertive trade policy.

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While the coronavirus pandemic has revealed the vulnerabilities of the global economy, the cause and shortcomings of trade policy’s persisting legitimacy crisis are rooted much deeper and are reinforced by the EU’s trade and investment agenda. This Policy Brief comprehensively looks at shortcomings and vulnerabilities of the global economy beyond the coronavirus pandemic and proposes a number of principles to ensure that EU trade and investment policy puts public welfare above private profit interests.

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Henrike Schaum

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Vincent Perle

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