The European Parliament has today voted to ratify the EU-New Zealand free trade agreement. This is a landmark agreement for the EU, their first which includes binding provisions to ensure that both parties uphold their commitments to environmental sustainability and international labour rights.
Following a new approach to trade and sustainable development, the EU has a stated aim to enforce multilateral commitments, such as nationally determined contributions to targets in the Paris Agreement. Under the EU/NZ free trade agreement, either party can, as a last resort, apply trade sanctions if the other fails to meet their climate obligations. This ensures consequences in the event that either party breaches their environmental commitments.
This agreement sets a precedent for what future EU free trade agreements should strive to achieve. The ability to replicate this agreement in the future will, however, depend upon the willingness of trade partners to be bound to meeting their Paris Agreement obligations within a trade agreement.
For farmers in the EU, this new approach to trade should be welcomed as a sign that the EU is promoting sustainable practices overseas as well as at home, hopefully leading to a more level playing field for industries such agriculture.
The TSD chapter in the EU’s agreement with NZ is similar to what is in the UK’s FTA with NZ, thereby setting a standard for like-minded countries in future trade.
Read more in our BAB briefing: Trade and Sustainable Development Chapter of EU-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement.