Governing Labour Standards Through Free Trade Agreements: Limits of the European Union's Trade and Sustainable Development Chapters

18 Pages Posted: 15 Mar 2019

See all articles by James Harrison

James Harrison

University of Warwick - School of Law

Mirela Barbu

Queen Mary University of London

Liam Campling

Queen Mary, University of London

Ben Richardson

University of Warwick

Adrian Smith

Queen Mary, University of London

Date Written: March 2019

Abstract

The EU has established a new architecture of international labour standards governance within the Trade and Sustainable Development (TSD) chapters of its Free Trade Agreements (FTAs). To examine the operationalization of this framework, we draw upon 121 interviews undertaken with key informants in three FTAs signed with the Caribbean, South Korea and Moldova. We engage with wider debates over external governance and the projection of EU power by showing how operational failings, including a lack of legal and political prioritization of TSD chapters and shortcomings in the implementation of key provisions, have hindered the impact of the FTAs upon labour standards. We also identify significant limitations to the EU's ‘common formulation’ approach when applied to different trading partner contexts, alongside ambiguities about the underlying purpose of the trade–labour linkage. Reflection about the function and purpose of labour standards provisions in EU trade policy is therefore required.

Keywords: labour standards, trade policy, bilateral trade agreement, civil society, labour governance

Suggested Citation

Harrison, James and Barbu, Mirela and Campling, Liam and Richardson, Ben and Smith, Adrian, Governing Labour Standards Through Free Trade Agreements: Limits of the European Union's Trade and Sustainable Development Chapters (March 2019). JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies, Vol. 57, Issue 2, pp. 260-277, 2019. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3352789 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jcms.12715

James Harrison (Contact Author)

University of Warwick - School of Law ( email )

Gibbet Hill Road
Coventry CV4 7AL, CV4 7AL
United Kingdom
02476 523170 (Phone)
02476 524105 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/law/staff/academic/harrison

Mirela Barbu

Queen Mary University of London

Mile End Rd
Mile End Road
London, E1 4NS
United Kingdom

Liam Campling

Queen Mary, University of London ( email )

School of Business & Managment
Mile End Road
London, E1 4NS
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.busman.qmul.ac.uk/staff/camplingl.html

Ben Richardson

University of Warwick ( email )

Gibbet Hill Rd.
Coventry, West Midlands CV4 8UW
United Kingdom

Adrian Smith

Queen Mary, University of London ( email )

Mile End Road
London, E1 4NS
United Kingdom

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