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Trade | 15 July 2020

The Trade and Sustainable Development Chapter in the EU-Mercosur Association Agreement

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The Trade and Sustainable Development Chapter in the EU-Mercosur Association Agreement

The Trade and Sustainable Development (TSD) Chapter of EU-Mercosur Association Agreement (EUMAA) has been widely touted by its supporters as effectively addressing the environmental and social concerns raised by EUMAA’s critics. This paper, written by James Harrison and Sophia Paulini, carefully scrutinises the claims of the TSD Chapter’s proponents.

They conclude that the TSD Chapter does not significantly reinforce countries’ climate change commitments as set out in the Paris Agreement. Nor does it provide a strong framework for addressing other important environmental and social issues. The chapter neither ensures against EUMAA itself increasing environmental and social harms, nor is itself a building block towards more sustainable trade. It does not even ensure that the effects of the Agreement are properly monitored so that we know what its effects are, and can react accordingly. Therefore, the authors conclude that the TSD Chapter is not fit for purpose.

Harrison and Paulini argue that if the reality of EUMAA and its TSD Chapter is to live up to the rhetoric of its proponents, then fundamental reform is needed.

James Harrison is Professor of international law at the University of Warwick’s School of Law. James has a particular interest in exploring the broader social and environmental impacts of international economic laws, process and actors. He has researched and written extensively about trade and sustainable development chapters in EU trade agreements.

Sophia Paulini is a PhD researcher at the Department of International and European Union Law at Erasmus University Rotterdam. Her research covers the interfaces between international trade and the environment as well as EU and international risk regulation. In her doctoral thesis, Sophia analyses the question of how the precautionary principle, as defined under EU law, is reflected in the EU’s new generation trade agreements.