EU Trade and Human Rights
The human rights ³essential element´ clause
Since 1995 the EU has incorporated a human rights clause as an essentialelement in all framework agreements with third countries, stipulating thatrespect for human rights and democratic principles should form the basis of the agreement. In 2003, all EU member states agreed a position on theinclusion of such human rights clauses in all EU±third country agreements,except sector-specific agreements such as steel and fisheries. This positionwas subsequently reinforced in 2009 in the ³Common Approach on the Use of Political Clauses´. To date, 45 framework agreements containing such aclause have been agreed with more than 120 countries. The clauses providea peg for dialogue, allowing the EU to engage positively with the third countryon human rights. In extreme circumstances, the agreement can also besuspended in the event of a serious breach of the clause.Since 1995, negative measures have been implemented under the humanrights clause framework agreement on 22 occasions, most frequently inresponse to a coup d¶état, for example in the Central African Republic, Fiji andNiger, but also for flawed electoral processes such as in Haiti and Togo, andfor violations of human rights, as in Liberia and Zimbabwe.
Third-country free trade agreements
The EU is the world¶s largest trading bloc and the combined national output of the 27 EU member states accounts for 25% of world GDP. The EU¶sfounding documents state that the EU¶s commercial policy will be conductedin line with the overriding principles of respect for human rights, democracyand the rule of law. Trade agreements with third countries therefore provideimportant leverage for the EU to advance global respect for human rights .The eight core International Labour Organization conventions, on child labour,forced labour, non-discrimination and basic trade union rights, are covered inthe sustainable development chapter of the EU¶s free trade agreements with