Action point 17

Advocate for strengthening the integration of sustainable development (including human rights) in free trade agreements

Plaider au niveau de la Belgique pour le renforcement de l’intégration du développement durable (y compris des droits de l’Homme) dans les accords de libre échange

The federal government states that during negotiations at the European level, Belgium will advocate for the respect and inclusion of fundamental labour rights and international environmental standards – including in cases of development cooperation – in investment agreements and free trade agreements. “Any new trade or investment agreement must not have negative impact on sustainable development.”

  • Flanders mentions its support of the EU’s efforts to include separate chapters covering sustainable development, in which the environment, labour (including dignity in work) and transparency (including consultation with civil society) in free trade and investment agreements. Flanders aims to continue its advocacy for the inclusion of clauses promoting socially responsible entrepreneurship, including compliance and enforcements mechanisms, into these chapters.
  • Flanders also mentions its support to the EU practice of always referring, in the preambles to these agreements, to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
  • The Flemish government also stated that it is funding the ILO project ‘Workers’ rights in globalising economies: assessment of labour provisions in trade and investment arrangements’ for an amount of € 450,000 (Flemish ILO Trust Fund). The project started in July 2014 and will be completed in the course of 2016.
  • The main purpose of this project is to conduct a survey on how employment standards and arrangements are reflected in trade and investment agreements, and what effect these provisions have on the employment situation in the country with which the agreement was concluded.
  • The region of Brussels will ensure that a HRIA has been carried out before any ratification of investment and trade agreements, and that any major negative impact on the respect, protection and promotion of human rights has not been detected in third-party countries.