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Social provisions in Free Trade Agreements

20/03/2009 Social provisions in Free Trade Agreements

The European Commission has published a study of the use, scope and effectiveness of labour and social provisions and sustainable development aspects in bilateral and regional Free Trade Agreements.

The study examines different types of clauses dealing with employment, social policy and sustainable development in existing bilateral and regional trade agreements.  It assesses their scope, implementation and effects.  It also looks at the relative merits of different options, as well as the role of follow-up mechanisms, assistance and cooperation.

The conclusions of the study look at the relative merits of four 'optional' objectives which may be incorporated in various ways in trade agreements:

  • protect fair trade
  • prevent undesirable effects on employment
  • uphold universal values
  • promote decent work and sustainable development

The study was financed by and prepared for the use of the European Commission, Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities. It does not necessarily represent the Commission's official position.