March 21, 2013

The EU-US trade agreement and obligations under ICESCR

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Seven members of the European Parliament (Greens/EFA) asked the Commission a question on the proposed EU-US trade agreement.

The EU is obliged to respect, protect and fulfil the human rights enshrined in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). The EU’s obligation results from the constitutional traditions common to the Member States (Article 6(3) TEU), since all EU member states have ratified the ICESCR. The EU must desist from acts and omissions that create a real risk of nullifying or impairing the enjoyment of ICESCR rights (see also Case C-73/08 Bressol and Others).

The United States has signed but not ratified the ICESCR.

– How will the Commission ensure, during the negotiations of the announced trade agreement with the US, that the ICESCR rights are respected, including the right of everyone “to take part freely in an active and informed way, and without discrimination, in any important decision-making process that may have an impact on his or her way of life and on his or her rights under article 15, paragraph 1 (a)”*.

*) ECOSOC (2009), Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, General comment No. 21, Right of everyone to take part in cultural life (art. 15, para. 1 (a), of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights), E/C.12/GC/21,