The impact of EU trade and development policies on human rights

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Brando, Nicolás
Hachez, Nicolas
Lein, Brecht
Marx, Axel
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Since the Lisbon treaty entered into force on 1 December 2009, all policies of the European Union must contribute to the promotion and protection of human rights. For the Union’s external policies in particular, Article 21 of the Treaty on European Union stipulates that the EU should consistently and coherently ‘consolidate and support democracy, the rule of law, human rights and the principles of international law’ (TEU, Art 21, 2-b). As such, both the Union’s Common Commercial Policy and its development cooperation are to be guided by the EU’s human rights principles and objectives. A previous report under this work package provided a comprehensive mapping of the EU’s toolbox to implement these commitments and found that, on the whole, the EU is well-equipped to promote human rights in trade and development policies. In spite of the proliferation of legal and political commitments for human rights promotion since the Lisbon treaty, and the availability of the tools for their respective implementation, little is known however, about the actual impact of these human rights provisions in EU trade and development policies. Indeed, assessing the impact of the EU’s various trade and development policies on the human rights of citizens in EU partner countries would be methodologically daunting and is infeasible within the scope of this –and arguably any – report. Rather, the present report aims to assess:  to what extent the EU itself is equipped – and willing – to adequately assess (ex-ante) and evaluate (ex-post) the effects of its trade and development policies on human rights; and  In how far the provisions to take into account human rights considerations throughout these policies can make a difference in practice. In order to do so, this report analyses the Union’s various evaluation and impact assessment procedures, ex-ante and ex-post, to see in how far they take into account human rights considerations, in their scope and objectives, as well as throughout their procedures. It first describes the general underlying principles and objectives of including human rights in impact assessments and ex-post evaluations. Subsequently, and in view of recent EU commitments towards a ‘Rights Based Approach to Development’, this report looks into the EU’s evaluation system for development cooperation, notably to see in how far its current evaluation function is equipped to conduct rights-based evaluations. In a next chapter on the EU’s system for ex-ante impact assessments, this report studies the extent to which development and human rights concerns are taken into account in both the policy and practice of the Commission’s ex-ante impact assessment tools. A fourth chapter then maps out the particular assessment challenges and opportunities within the field of EU trade policy and finally chapter five offers a case study on the practical application of rights-provisions under one of the EU’s new generation trade agreements, notably the 2012 EU- Colombia trade agreement.