The European Union (EU) has been increasingly using its strong global commercial leverage to progressively promote and strengthen social rights and labour standards through its external trade relations. The chapter looks at the EU’s law and practice of social conditionality by focusing on the EU’s bilateral and regional trade agreements. It identifies and critically evaluates the legal subjects and objects of the EU’s social conditionality for the purposes of unpacking and understanding the complexities of the EU’s approach to social conditionality. Keywords: European Union; social conditionality; trade agreements; legal subjects and objects of EU law.
Lore Van den Putte and Samantha Velluti
The chapter examines the European Union’s (EU) practice of promoting social rights and international labour standards in its external trade relations. After providing a general background of the trade-labour linkage, with particular reference to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and EU strategic partnership, it proceeds to the analysis of the unilateral and bilateral trade arrangements of the EU. In so doing, it compares the EU’s approach under the incentive scheme of the Generalized System of Trade Preferences (GSP+) with that under the so-called ‘new generation’ of free trade agreements (FTAs), and also in contrast to the United States’ (US) approach. In this context it looks at the cooperative nature of EU social conditionality. The chapter concludes with some reflections on the main findings of the evaluation of EU social trade carried out in the preceding sections.