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29. Januar 2022: Revision of EU action plan on trade and sustainable development will only be published in summer, says Valdis Dombrovskis

MEPs frequently call for it (see EUROPE B12876A12), but the Commission’s revised 15-point action plan on sustainable trade will not be published until the summer, according to European Commissioner for Trade Valdis Dombrovskis. He gave this timetable at the conference “For a More Sustainable and Responsible Trade” organised by the French Presidency of the EU Council on Friday 28 January. This text, which is supposed to review the content and implementation of sustainable development chapters (TSD) in trade agreements, was expected in spring. The public consultation on this issue ended in November 2021.

Since then, the Commission has been torn between introducing sanctions in the event that partner countries do not respect the TSD chapters in the agreements, or not doing so, so as not to discourage trade. Valdis Dombrovskis said that both options were still on the table. France wants to focus on sustainability in trade during its Presidency of the EU Council. In 2020, it had already proposed a working document with the Netherlands on this issue. Both countries suggested that tariff preferences should be made conditional on compliance with TSD chapters (see EUROPE B12480A14). Invited to the conference in Paris, the Chairman of the European Parliament’s Committee on International Trade, Bernd Lange (S&D, Germany), recalled the importance of going further on TSD chapters, including to ensure greater respect for workers’ rights in partner countries. It is clear to him that sanctions should be applied as a last resort.

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