Since the conclusion of the EU-UK agreement, one of the big questions among stakeholders and MEPs has been: how can civil society have a role in monitoring and enforcing the deal?
The Single Entry Point (SEP) was introduced by the European Commission last year, together with the appointment of the Chief Trade Enforcement Officer. The latter was promised in President von der Leyen’s political guidelines (2019) and is part of a growing recognition that ‘trade is not an end in itself’, that trade deals must have ambitious sustainable development chapters and compliance needs to be improved.
The SEP allows EU citizens, NGOs, trade unions, companies and other entities to bring complaints about violations of commitments in trade and sustainable development chapters. The European Commission will review lodged complaints in wide-ranging interdepartmental consultations, which could eventually culminate in a dispute settlement procedure. The complainant will receive notification of receipt of their complaint, will be informed as to whether an enforcement action is started and might receive updates depending on the sensitivity and confidentiality of the issue at stake.
This could be an important avenue for civil society to support the implementation of the EU-UK agreement, in addition to the Domestic Advisory Groups (DAGs) and Civil Society Forum, both foreseen in the deal, but which have a weak role.
A similar complaint mechanism for civil society has not yet been developed in the UK.
Political guidelines of President Ursula von der Leyen – My agenda for Europe
On the Trade Chief Trade Enforcement Officer and the Single Entry Point
Operating guidelines for the Single Entry Point and complaints mechanism