FTA has recently contributed to the public consultation opened by the European Commission towards updating the ‘Handbook for Sustainability Impact Assessment (SIA) of EU trade negotiations’. SIAs are comprehensive mandatory reports that analyse the potential economic, social and environmental impact of preferential trade agreements, and based on which the Commission can steer the negotiations and make the adequate recommendations. The handbook, published in 2006, defines the general terms and establishes the methodological framework of these reports.
With sustainability considerations gaining a growing importance in EU trade negotiations, this update aims to adjust the current template with recent developments, and also with regard to the methodology used to carry them out.
FTA has been actively involved in this process to promote and facilitate a factual discussion about the opportunities and limits of sustainability goals in trade agreements. In its response to the consultation, FTA stressed that the current SIA has proven to be a pertinent instrument and therefore no substantial changes are necessary. In FTA’s expert opinion, SIAs should focus on economic aspects and economic operators while also solidly covering social and environmental impacts. However, in the sectorial analysis more attention should be given to the retail and import sector since today the impact assessment almost exclusively concerns exporting industries.
The consultation period run from 30 April to 14 August 2015 and the Commission expects to publish the revised edition by the end of 2015, becoming the main reference point for consultants, civil society and all interested stakeholders on how to conduct an SIA.
To read FTA’s full contribution, please click here.