Human Rights Are Increasingly ImportantHOW THE EU HAS USED COMMERCIAL AGREEMENTS TO PROMOTE RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS, IN A PAPER BY LEONARDO BORLINI
Progress is an ideal notion, whereas development is a pragmatic fact, yet true progress is not conceivable unless the economic premises needed to realize it are created, Pier Paolo Pasolini wrote in the essay Scritti corsari.
This quotation opens a paper by Leonardo Borlini on the European Union’s promotion of human rights through preferential trade agreements. “The EU is the perfect laboratory for understanding the tension between development and progress”, he says. In The EU’s Promotion of Human Rights and Sustainable Development through PTAs as a Tool to Influence Business Regulation in Third Countries, professor Borlini discusses the steps that have marked the EU’s action in using trade agreements and development cooperation to promote the respect of human rights, the environment and labour standards.
“The Treaty of Lisbon is a milestone. With the introduction of Arts. 3(5) and 21 TEU, the protection and promotion of human rights is established as a foreign policy directive”. However, the inclusion of human rights clauses in bilateral trade agreements dates back to the mid-1990s. Those clauses define the reciprocal obligations of the parties, so that human rights violations of a certain scale by one of them can justify suspension or other counter-measures. Over time, sustainable development obligations and corporate social responsibility clauses have been incorporated to the agreements. This latest initiative makes it all the more evident that the EU wants to influence business activities beyond its borders by promoting market regulation in other countries. “Some claim that projecting the EU model worldwide complies with an ideal of sustainable global development, while others believe that the failure to export its standards would penalize European firms”, Leonardo Borlini notes.
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