EU Policies and Approaches
Edited by Jan Wouters, Axel Marx, Dylan Geraets and Bregt Natens
Chapter 4: Human rights and sustainable development obligations in EU free trade agreements
Since the early 1990s, the trade agreements entered into by the European Union (EU) have included a ‘human rights clause’ requiring the parties to respect human rights and democratic principles. More recently, beginning with the 2008 EU-Cariforum Economic Partnership Agreement, they have also included ‘sustainable development’ chapters, which contain obligations to respect labour and environmental standards. This chapter considers the extent to which, legally, these two sets of provisions give the EU the means of implementing its obligations to ensure that its external activities respect human rights and pursue the objective of promoting sustainable development. It also considers the desirability of these differences in the EU’s approach to human rights and democratic principles, on the one hand, and labour and environmental standards, on the other.
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