28 Jan 2014    Working Papers
Bürgi Bonanomi, Elisabeth

EU Trade Agreements and their Impacts on Human Rights

The European Union’s (EU) trade policy has a strong influence on economic development and the human rights situation in the EU’s partner countries, particularly in developing countries.

The present study was commissioned by the German Federal ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) as a contribution to further developing appropriate methodologies for assessing human rights risks in development-related policies, an objective set in the BMZ’s 2011 strategy on human rights. The study offers guidance for stakeholders seeking to improve their knowledge of how to assess, both ex ante and ex post, the impact of Economic Partnership Agreements on poverty reduction and the right to food in ACP countries. Currently, human rights impacts are not yet systematically addressed in the trade sustainability impact assessments (trade SIAs) that the European Commission conducts when negotiating trade agreements. Nor do they focus specifically on disadvantaged groups or include other benchmarks relevant to human rights impact assessments (HRIAs). The EU itself has identified a need for action in this regard. In June 2012 it presented an Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy that calls for the inclusion of human rights in all impact assessments and in this context explicitly refers to trade agreements. Since then, the EU has begun to slightly adapt its SIA methodology and is working to define more adequate human rights–consistent procedures. It is hoped that readers of this study will find inspiration to help contribute to this process and help improve human rights consistency of future trade options.

Working paper