Comparative Analysis of TSD Provisions for Identification of Best Practices to Support the TSD Review


September 2021

Comparative Analysis of TSD Provisions for Identification of Best Practices to Support the TSD Review

Ever since it began introducing trade and sustainable development (TSD) provisions in its trade agreements, the European Commission has favoured an evidence-based approach to sustainability issues that values consultation and input from Member States, the European Parliament and trade policy stakeholders. In July 2017, the Commission launched a debate on how to optimize the implementation and enforcement of TSD chapters in EU free trade agreements (FTAs), which culminated in the publication of a 15-Point Action Plan in February 2018. These fifteen recommendations, regrouped into four principles (Working Together, Enabling Civil Society, Delivering, and Communicating and Transparency) have influenced EU trade policy with regard to both processes and outcomes.

In compliance with the terms of its 15-Point Action Plan, the Commission is currently reviewing its TSD approach and reflecting on the need to take additional measures to ensure the full and effective implementation of TSD chapters. This study is designed to inform the Commission’s work by undertaking a comparative analysis and feeding best practices into the TSD review.

This study aims to provide a comprehensive and critical review of different approaches to TSD provisions in FTAs among a selection of non-EU countries. Its objective is to compare the scope, modalities and effects of each country’s TSD model. This requires mapping out and appraising the social and environmental commitments that countries take when signing trade agreements; understanding the institutional mechanisms and targeted actors expected to promote sustainable development; and measuring the progress accomplished by the inclusion of specific TSD provisions in FTAs.

Drawing from the expertise of the analytical team and its international advisory committee, the study aims to inform the Commission’s ongoing TSD review with an evidence-based analysis that helps the reader assess the challenges and benefits of different provisions as well as implementation and enforcement practices. To determine the scope of this study, the team of analysts has collected data on third-country FTAs that include substantive TSD provisions and conducted a full literature review. All Tasks performed in this analysis are tailored to fit the purpose of the TSD review.