1.1 Basic rules of economic policy

Bi- and multilateral economic relations [page 17-18]

“Under Article 207 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), commercial policy lies within the sphere of competence of the EU. Within the Federal Government, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is responsible for formulating German positions in the realm of commercial policy and advancing them in European and global forums. For the export-driven German economy, particular importance attaches to the elimination of trade barriers and reinforcement of the multilateral trade system. Trade, moreover, can make a major contribution to sustainable development. In this context, it is important that trade should be shaped in a development-friendly way. This means, for example, that environmental, social and human rights standards should firmly underpin free-trade agreements, which should be accompanied by impact-assessment and monitoring mechanisms.”

The current situation

“The institutions and Member States of the EU are also bound by their human rights obligations when implementing Union legislation. Germany supports the EU practice of agreeing on provisions designed to safeguard human rights in framework agreements with trading partners and using sustainability chapters in all new free-trade agreements to enshrine high labour, social and environmental standards. Germany is committed to the negotiation of comprehensive binding standards for inclusion in these sustainability chapters. The EU ‘Trade for All’ strategy which was presented in the autumn of 2015 also emphasises that commercial policy should advance sustainable development and human rights throughout the world. At the same time, freetrade agreements also guarantee the right to regulate, which preserves the necessary leeway for states to protect human rights.

The Federal Government supports further development of the range of instruments for human rights impact assessment of trade and investment agreements.”


  • “The Federal Government is pressing for the inclusion of an ambitious sustainability chapter in the planned TTIP agreement with the United States.
  • The Federal Government advocates and supports further development of the range of instruments for human rights impact assessments of the EU’s trade and investment agreements. Moreover, comprehensive impact assessments should be conducted before negotiations begin, so as to guarantee that the findings of the assessments can influence the negotiations.
  • In the framework of the Aid for Trade initiative, the Federal Government supports developing countries’ efforts to improve their trading opportunities. In the future, the Federal Government will focus even more sharply on supporting compliance with labour, social and environmental standards.
  • The EU Special Incentive Arrangement for Sustainable Development and Good Governance (‘GSP+’) can be used as a format for promoting the observance and application of human rights standards by governments of developing countries. In the forthcoming review process of 2018, the Federal Government will press for further strengthening of that instrument.”

2.1 Ensuring the protection of human rights in supply and value chains

Measures [page 30]

“The Federal Government will support the systematic inclusion of sustainability chapters in free-trade agreements, which will prescribe, among other things, compliance with the ILO Core Labour Standards.”