Assessing the Effectiveness of Transnational Public and Private Policy Initiatives
Leuven Global Governance series
Edited by Axel Marx, Jan Wouters, Glenn Rayp and Laura Beke
Chapter 4: Divided we stand: the European Parliament’s position on social trade in the post-Lisbon era
Linking trade to social norms was a very controversial issue, especially in the 1990s (Waer, 1996, p. 25) and it remains so today. Also within the EU, linking social norms to trade (which we call ‘social trade’) has long been contested. Since the end of the 1990s, however, the EU has increasingly been seen as an international promoter of social norms, and the importance of the European Parliament (EP) in pushing this process forward has often been stressed (Orbie, Vos, & Taverniers, 2005; Waer, 1996). Already since the 1970s the EP has stood on the barricades for social trade (Orbie et al., 2005). It was even the driving force for taking up social norms in the World Trade Organization (WTO) (Waer, 1996), with resolutions in 1983 and 1986 asking for a provision in the GATT for members to expect the other three Core Labour Standards (CLS) (Charnovitz, 1987). Unilaterally it has also included social norms as part of the eligibility criteria for the Generalized System of Preferences Plus (GSP1). The fact that the EU eventually reached a common position on the inclusion of social norms in its trade policy is, among other things, the result of the ‘Sainjion report’ in 1994, which was requested by the EP and on the basis of which it called for a social clause in both the GATT/WTO context and in unilateral trade policies (Burgoon, 2004; European Parliament, 1994a, 1994b).
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