With European elections coming up in May 2019, you probably want to know how the European Union impacts your daily life, before you think about voting. In the latest in a series of posts on what Europe does for you, your family, your business and your wellbeing, we look at what Europe does for Supporters of value-driven trade policies.
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If you, like many Europeans, are concerned about the impact of EU trade policies on other parts of the world, the EU addresses your concerns in various ways.
First, the EU often includes rules on sustainable development and human rights in its trade agreements. This supports workers’ rights and environmental objectives in other countries. The EU is also a member of various important conventions that commit it to international cooperation in this area. One example is its membership of the 1973 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, which protects more than 35 000 species of flora and fauna.
The EU also, meanwhile, has its own laws to deal with specific concerns. Since 1996, for example, EU rules on trade in wildlife have determined which animals and plants can be imported and exported. More recently, in 2016, the EU updated legislation banning the export of goods that can be used for capital punishment or torture. This helps prevent EU exports from contributing to human rights violations abroad. In 2017, the EU also adopted new rules to outlaw conflict minerals mined in unstable countries by armed groups and sold on international markets. The EU’s rules aim to halt the abuse of local miners, and prevent conflict minerals from being exported to the EU and ending up on your dressing table. A final example concerns a new law currently being drafted by the EU on the illegal import of cultural goods. It seeks to ensure that unique items that are part of a country’s cultural heritage cannot be exported illegally to the EU to finance criminal activities.
- EPRS publication on ‘Fighting trade in tools for torture and executions’, 2017 http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/BRIE/2017/599275/EPRS_BRI(2017)599275_EN.pdf
- EPRS publication on ‘Regulating imports of cultural goods’, 2018 http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/BRIE/2018/614697/EPRS_BRI(2018)614697_EN.pdf
- European Commission’s Directorate General for Trade website, http://ec.europa.eu/trade/
- European Commission’s Directorate General for Environment website, http://ec.europa.eu/environment/index_en.htm