Promises to improve civil society’s role in trade complaints

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    The European Commission continues in its efforts to align EU policies to the Green Deal objectives, including on trade.

    Parity, accessibility and transparency are three keywords that will define the EU’s trade complaints mechanism, according to the chief trade enforcement officer, Denis Redonnet.

    Sustainable development provisions in trade deals are linked to a trade test, so that a violation of sustainable development has to demonstrate an impact on trade. This puts civil society at a disadvantage, which does not usually have direct access to trade information.

    The complaint mechanism, called the single entry point, tries to address this barrier. It allows a complaint to be submitted on a sustainable development violation, without having to provide evidence about impact on trade. This helps to create parity, as it puts claims on sustainable development and market access on the same level.

    The European Commission will also make a particular effort to help less-resourced stakeholders during the pre-complaint process e.g. with assistance in filling in the form.

    The single entry point has been in operation since the end of last year, but no complaints on trade and sustainable provisions have yet been received. However, the Commission is engaged in several pre-complaint discussions. It remains to be seen how efficient the mechanism is in addressing sustainable development violations.  

    DG Trade and other parts of the Commission have undergone a re-organisation, to reflect the new focus on implementation and enforcement of trade deals. Redonnet nevertheless recognises that it needs “boots on the ground”, such as more involvement from EU missions in third states and possible use of the network of member states’ embassies.

    European Parliament, INTA committee discussion with the EU chief trade enforcement officer, Denis Redonnet (24 February 2021)
    Brexit Watch number 57 on the single entry point mechanism

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