Table of Contents

Global Governance of Labour Rights

Global Governance of Labour Rights

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

This insightful book incorporates perspectives from several disciplines to provide a unique systematic analysis of emerging public and private initiatives in global labour rights governance. The expert contributors explore the complexities of labour rights governance in a global economy characterized by transnational supply chains. They assess how transnational, intergovernmental and private initiatives aim to address the challenges of global labour rights protection before discussing the effectiveness of these initiatives and presenting new empirical findings. The book concludes with a detailed reflection on how to strengthen the global regime of labour rights governance.

Chapter 4: Divided we stand: the European Parliament’s position on social trade in the post-Lisbon era

Lore Van den Putte

Subjects: law - academic, human rights, labour, employment law, regulation and governance, politics and public policy, human rights, regulation and governance


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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