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European Union
18.12.17
Urgent Interventions

Joint statement by European NGOs: No EU trade agreement with Mexico without ex-ante sustainability impact assessment!

Given the catastrophichuman rights situation, enormous social inequality and persistently high levelsof poverty in Mexico the question of the social, human rights and environmentalimpact of the "modernization" of the EU-Mexico Trade Agreement is ofparamount importance. In May 2017, Misereor, Bread for the Worldand the FDCL, in a joint study, already pointed to a possible worsening ofconflicts and social crisis as a result of the planned trade liberalization commitmentsin the area of investment, intellectual property and energy. [1]

So far, on the European Unionside, the possible effects of the agreement have not been fully investigated. Wetherefore welcome the European Commission's decision to fully explore thepotential economic, social, human rights and environmental impacts of the FreeTrade Agreement through aSustainability Impact Assessment (SIA). At the same time, from our point ofview, it is completely unacceptable that the SIA will only start at a time whenthe negotiations are nearing completion.

Both negotiating partieshave repeatedly stated that they wish to finalize negotiations on the GlobalAgreement by the end of 2017.

This approach blatantlycontradicts the Commission's own guidelines for implementing SIAs and thedeclared objective of enabling better consideration of sustainability and humanrights aspects in the negotiations.[2]

According to the EU, SIAsare independent ex-ante investigations, they are launched soon after the Council of the EuropeanUnion has formally authorized the Commission to enter into trade negotiations;in general, not later than 6 months after the start of negotiations, to ensurethat the analysis can usefully feed into the negotiating process at a usefulstage. [3] In fact, the European Commission only assignedLSE Enterprise with the implementation of Mexico SIA in November 2017, while thenegotiating mandate to modernize the Global Agreement had already been issuedby the Council to the Commission in May 2016. Since then, a total of six roundsof negotiations have taken place. The next round of negotiations is scheduledto be held in Brussels from 18.12.-22.12.2017.

In accordance withthe Commission, theSIA should also rely on a broad consultation process of the relevantstakeholders in the EU and in the partner country. The purpose of the SIA is tobring to theattention of negotiators ingood time the potential impact of the trade measures under negotiation and possible trade-offs, thus to supportsound policymaking.[4] However, the time and consultation plan contained in the Inception Reportof 5.12.2017 provides for local workshops in the partner country only in theseventh month of implementation, i.e. after the completion of the interimreport. The results of the SIA will be presented with the draft final reportafter a total of 10 months.

If the EU Commission wereto maintain its negotiation time schedule, it would generallybe impossible for the results of the consultations and the SIA as awhole to influence the negotiations in terms of human rights and theSustainable Development Goals (SDG). In the absence of prior assessment ofhuman rights risks, the Commission thuslacks the necessary empirical basis to meet the requirements of Articles 3 and21 of the Treaty of Lisbon, according to which the EU must respect and promotehuman rights also in its external trade relations.

Against this background, weexpect the Commission to:

- suspendthe negotiations untilthe results of the SIA are available so that human rights risks andsustainability risks of the agreement can be adequately addressed;

- ensurea broad and transparent consultation process of all relevant stakeholders inthe implementation of the SIA, in particular civil society and vulnerablegroups, such as indigenous communities and defenders of economic,social and cultural human rights;

We call on the EU Council and the Members of the European Parliament to:

- requestfrom the Commission an adjustment of the negotiation timetable, whichallows an appropriate consideration of the results of the SIA and theobligations under Articles 3 and 21 of the Treaty of Lisbon;

- reviewthe interim results of the negotiations so far in the light of the results ofthe SIA, involving civil society and, on this basis, to subject the May 2016negotiating mandate to a fundamental revision;

- to denyits consent to the agreement, unless the results of the SIA have been takeninto account in the ongoing negotiations.



[1] Thomas Fritz, Derechos Humanos enel Olvido. La Renegociación del Acuerdo Comercial de la Unión Europea conMéxico, Mayo 2017, https://www.fdcl.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/FDCL_MEX_ES08092017web.pdf

[2] European Commission: Handbook for trade sustainability impactassessment, 2nd edition, p. 11. http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/docs/2016/april/tradoc_154464.PDF

[3] ibid., p. 11

[4] ibid., p. 21. @font-face { font-family: "Courier New";}@font-face { font-family: "Wingdings";}@font-face { font-family: "Wingdings";}@font-face { font-family: "Calibri";}p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0cm 0cm 8pt; line-height: 107%; font-size: 11pt; font-family: Calibri; }p.MsoFootnoteText, li.MsoFootnoteText, div.MsoFootnoteText { margin: 0cm 0cm 0.0001pt; font-size: 10pt; font-family: Calibri; }span.MsoFootnoteReference { vertical-align: super; }p.MsoBodyText, li.MsoBodyText, div.MsoBodyText { margin: 0cm 0cm 6pt; line-height: 107%; font-size: 11pt; font-family: Calibri; }a:link, span.MsoHyperlink { color: rgb(5, 99, 193); text-decoration: underline; }a:visited, span.MsoHyperlinkFollowed { color: rgb(149, 79, 114); text-decoration: underline; }p.MsoListParagraph, li.MsoListParagraph, div.MsoListParagraph { margin: 0cm 0cm 8pt 36pt; line-height: 107%; font-size: 11pt; font-family: Calibri; }p.MsoListParagraphCxSpFirst, li.MsoListParagraphCxSpFirst, div.MsoListParagraphCxSpFirst { margin: 0cm 0cm 0.0001pt 36pt; line-height: 107%; font-size: 11pt; font-family: Calibri; }p.MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle, li.MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle, div.MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle { margin: 0cm 0cm 0.0001pt 36pt; line-height: 107%; font-size: 11pt; font-family: Calibri; }p.MsoListParagraphCxSpLast, li.MsoListParagraphCxSpLast, div.MsoListParagraphCxSpLast { margin: 0cm 0cm 8pt 36pt; line-height: 107%; font-size: 11pt; font-family: Calibri; }span.NotedebasdepageCar { }span.shorttext { }span.CorpsdetexteCar { }.MsoChpDefault { font-size: 11pt; font-family: Calibri; }.MsoPapDefault { margin-bottom: 8pt; line-height: 107%; }div.WordSection1 { }ol { margin-bottom: 0cm; }ul { margin-bottom: 0cm; }

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