A summary of the main research findings from the first stage of the project can be accessed here: Governing labour standards [PDF 2,245KB] and of the second stage focused on working conditions in global value chains here: Summary findings [PDF 503KB]
- On 18-19 December 2017, a workshop was organised which brought trade union representatives from Colombia, South Korea and Moldova to Brussels for two purposes. First, the workshop provided an opportunity for labour voices from trade partner countries who have been involved in the implementation of the Trade and Sustainable Development (TSD) chapters in European Union trade agreements to provide their views on (1) the current state of workers’ rights in their countries, (2) the limitations of current TSD chapters for tackling those issues, and (3) the extent to which the European Commission’s proposals for reform as set out in the recent ‘non-paper’ address those limitations. Second, the workshop provided a forum where research findings on TSD chapters were discussed with trade union representatives from the EU’s trade partners. Perspectives on TSD chapters from labour reps. in trade partner countries - A workshop report [PDF 256KB]
- In July 2017, the European Commission published a non-paper on Trade and Sustainable Development (TSD) chapters in EU Free Trade Agreements (FTAs). Our project team’s response, written in collaboration with other leading academics who have researched the European Union’s TSD approach, can be found here: A Response to the Non-paper of the European Commission on Trade and Sustainable Development (TSD) chapters in EU Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) [PDF 227KB]
- Campling, L., Harrison, J., Richardson, B. and Smith, A. (2016) “Can labour provisions work beyond the border? Evaluating the effects of EU trade agreements”, International Labour Review, 155 (3): 357-382. DOI: 10.1111/j.1564-913X.2015.00037.x
- Harrison, J., Barbu, M., Campling, L., Richardson, B. and Smith, A. (2016) “Labour standards in EU free trade agreements: working towards what end?” GREAT Insights, 5 (6): 32-34.
- Smith, A., Barbu, M., Harrison, J., Richardson, B. and Campling, L. (2017) ‘Labour provisions in the European Union-Republic of Moldova Association Agreement’, in International Labour Organization, Handbook on Assessment of Labour Provisions in Trade and Investment Agreements, ILO: Geneva, pp. 87-97.
- Barbu, M., Smith, A., Harrison, J., Campling, L. and Richardson, B. (2017) ‘Note on the State Labour Inspectorate in the Republic of Moldova’, technical note produced for EU trade agreement Domestic Advisory Group members as part of wider ESRC research project on “Working Beyond the Border”.
LSE Brexit blog: Harrison, J., Richardson, B., Campling, L., Smith, A. and Barbu, M. (2017) "Workers' rights are now a basic element of trade deals. What stance will Britain take?"
Social Europe blog: Smith, A., Campling, L., Barbu, M., Harrison, J. and Richardson, B. (2017) “Anchoring labour rights more effectively in EU trade agreements”
Working Paper 1:
Harrison, J., Barbu, M., Campling, L., Richardson, B. and Smith, A. (2016) “Governing labour standards through Free Trade Agreements: limits of the European Union’s Trade and Sustainable Development Chapters”
The European Union has established a new architecture of international labour standards governance within the Trade and Sustainable Development (TSD) Chapters of its recent Free Trade Agreements (FTAs). This article draws upon extensive qualitative research involving three recent EU trade agreements (the Korea-EU FTA, CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement, and Moldova-EU Association Agreement) to assess the effectiveness of this approach. We highlight some of the key limitations to effective governance, including lack of prioritisation of TSD Chapters among key actors; shortcomings in the implementation of key provisions; the limits of a ‘common formulation’ approach to labour standards governance; and a lack of shared understanding of the underlying purpose of labour standards provisions. We suggest that these failings collectively represent fundamental structural problems with the current EU approach, and this should prompt deep reflection about the purpose and form of labour standards provisions within EU FTAs in the future.
Copy available from Adrian Smith
Working Paper 2:
Barbu, M., Campling, L., Smith, A., Harrison, J. and Richardson, B. (2016) “Global value chains and labour standards in the European Union’s Free Trade Agreements: the missing link between international trade regulation and global production?”
This paper investigates the extent to which the labour standards provisions in the European Union’s (EU) recent free trade agreements are capable of having an effect on working conditions in global value chains. The paper argues it is vital to develop an understanding of how legal and institutional mechanisms established by these agreements intersect with global value chain (GVC) governance dynamics in contrasting political economies. An analytical framework is developed for assessing the implementation of labour standards in FTAs that draws upon GVC approaches. The paper then applies this framework to explore how governance arrangements and power relations between lead firms and local producers play out in two contrasting value chains and national contexts. This analysis demonstrates how labour standards provisions in EU trade agreements are faced with a range of differentiated environments, and that there are serious difficulties in creating meaningful change in global value chains given the limitations of the EU’s current model of labour standards provisions. The paper finishes with some ideas for how EU FTAs might better support efforts to enhance labour standards in global value chains in the future.
Copy available from Adrian Smith