The EU approach in its regional and bilateral arrangements is to focus more generally on social development objectives within a cooperative framework. EU agreements recognise and promote social rights and cooperation, including specific issues such as gender and health. The EU, however, does not pursue a trade sanctions-based approach to social and labour standards. Instead, it offers additional tariff preferences to countries which have signed and are effectively implementing the core UN/ILO human/labour rights international conventions (GSP system and GSP +).
1. European Free Trade Association’s FTAs (EFTA)
EFTA (European Free Trade Association) FTAs only contain references dealing with labour standards in the preamble and in the objectives. In recently concluded agreements, an explicit reference is made to the fundamental ILO principles of the ILO 1998 Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at work.
Access to these FTAs
2. European Union’s FTAs (Partnership Agreements / Association Agreements)
2a. REGIONAL FTAs
Euro-Mediterranean (EUROMED) FTAs
- EU/Syria Association Agreement (signed in 2004): Regarding social matters see title VII of the agreement
- EU/Lebanon Association Agreement (signed in 2002): Regarding social matters see title VI of the agreement
- EU/Jordan Association Agreement (signed in 2002): Regarding social matters see title VI of the agreement
- EU/Algeria Association Agreement (signed in 2002): Regarding social matters see title VI of the agreement
- EU/Egypt Association Agreement (signed in 2001): Regarding social matters see title VI of the agreement
- EU/Morocco Association Agreement (signed in 2000): Regarding social matters see title VI of the agreement
- EU/Israel Association Agreement (signed in 2000): Regarding social matters see title VIII of the agreement
- EU/Tunisia Association Agreement (signed in 1998): Regarding social matters see title VI of the agreement
EU / Caribbean, Pacific and African States (CPA): Cotonou Agreement
- EU/Caribbean, Pacific and African States Partnership Agreement (signed in 2000): See section 2 page 40 of the agreement for specific social and labour aspects and developments
- EU/CPA: Amendment of the Cotonou Agreement (2005)
EU / CARIFORUM States
- EU/CARIFORUM States Partnership Agreement (signed on October 15, 2008): See Chapter 5 of the agreement dealing with social aspects
EU / ASEAN
EU Member States in December 2009 gave the green light for the Commission to pursue FTA negotiations with individual ASEAN countries, beginning with Singapore, i.e. the EU's foremost trading partner among the ASEAN countries.
The door for other ASEAN countries willing to negotiate a comprehensive FTA remains open. At the same time, the EU has not lost sight of its ultimate goal of achieving an agreement within a regional framework.
EU / Central America
The EU and Central America (Panama, Honduras, Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua) have concluded the negotiations for an association agreement in may 2010 during the EU-LAC summit.
More information on the association agreement currently under legal review
EU / MERCOSUR
Negotiations for an inter-regional Association Agreement between the EU and the Mercosur countries (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay) were launched in 1999 but were, however, suspended in October 2004.
During 2009 and 2010, the EU and Mercosur conducted a process of informal contacts to take stock of the situations and assess if the conditions for a successful re-launch of the negotiations were now present.
EU / Golf Cooperation Council (GCC)
The EU and the GCC concluded an economic cooperation agreement in 1988 which laid down the framework for the elaboration of a free trade agreement. Negotiations were relaunched in 2002 with a new, wider mandate that includes trade in services and investment.
EU / Andean Community (CAN)
The EU and the Andean Community (Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru) were working on a bilateral trade investment pact since 1993.
The EU, Colombia and Peru announced the conclusion of negotiations for a trade agreement on may 2010 during the EU-LAC summit. This trade agreement is currently undergoing legal review
2b. BILATERAL FTAs
EU / Korea FTA
The Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the EU and the Republic of Korea is the first of the new generation of FTAs launched in 2007. It has been signed by both parties on October 6, 2010 in Brussels.
FTA text (see Chapter 13 and its annex on Trade and Sustainable Development)
EU / Canada’s future FTA
The EU is in negotiations for a comprehensive economic and trade agreement with Canada. The last round of negotiations took place in Brussels in July 2010 and the next round is expected to take place in Ottawa in October 2010.
EU / India’s future FTA
The European Union and India launched negotiations on a bilateral free trade and investment agreement in June 2007 and currently plan to conclude it by the end of 2009.
- Access to the EU’s bilateral trade relations, EU’s trade and labour standards and EU’s general trade issues
- More information concerning the Economic Partnership Agreement signed between the European Community and the CARIFORUM States regarding social aspects
- Overview of the EU regional trade agreement displayed on tables
- Overview of the EU FTAs and other trade negotiations
- Impact of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership on employment in eight Southern and Eastern Mediterranean countries
- EU- Developing Country FTA’s: Overview and Analysis (May 2005)
- The social dimension of Globalization and European Union Development Policy, Jan Orbie (May 2007)
- Centre for European Policy studies, Prospect for the EU’s New Generation of FTAs (April 2008)
- The European Union’s Generalised System of Preferences