In an effort to promote global sustainable development, the EU is taking steps to integrate environmental concerns into its external relations and trade policies. Particular emphasis is put on including environmental issues in the enlargement process, on developing stronger global co-operation on environmental issues through an enhanced United Nations system and on finding a greater balance between liberalized trade rules and multilateral environmental agreements.
The EU Strategy on Sustainable Development sets out a framework for a long-term vision of sustainability in which economic growth, social cohesion and environmental protection go hand in hand and are mutually supportive.
Launched in 2010, the EU Strategy "Europe 2020" aims at reaching a smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. In this context, the EU adopted in 2010 the Communication on Trade, Growth, and World affairs that stresses that the EU trade policy should continue to "support green growth and climate change objectives" and to "support and promote green growth around the globe in other areas, such as energy, resource efficiency and biodiversity protection". The importance of trade and sustainable development for the EU is also reflected in the 2012 Communication on Trade, Growth, and Development that highlights the specific value of sustainable development in a development context.
More specifically, the EU has integrated sustainable development and environmental objectives in a number of trade instruments:
On the other hand, trade policy measures are also used in numerous environmental instruments. Restrictions on trade are used in a number of MEAs including for example on biodiversity (endangered animal and plant species), chemicals of regional or global concerns, and ozone layer depletion. The most prominent examples of EU instruments with environmental objectives that include trade measures are the Timber Regulation and related FLEGT (Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade) Voluntary Partnership Agreements addressing trade in illegal timber, and the IUU (Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing) Regulation. The Commission carefully examines potential legislation or policies to ensure that they are WTO compliant, i.e. non-discriminatory in relation to the origin of like goods and the least trade restrictive to achieve desired environmental objectives.
More information is available on DG TRADE website on:
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