The EU-US trade agreement and obligations under ICESCR

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,

3 thoughts on “The EU-US trade agreement and obligations under ICESCR

  1. Similar challenges for EU negotiators might evolve from other international treaties such as:

    Signed July 17, 1980; never ratified. The United States remains one of a handful of countries, including Iran and Sudan, not to ratify CEDAW, which was signed by President Jimmy Carter. The treaty continues to face resistance from conservatives in the Senate.

    Signed February 16, 1995; never ratified. Only the United States and Somalia have not ratified the Convention, which was signed by President Bill Clinton. Among other things, the Convention forbids capital punishment of minors. Senate conservatives who support the death penalty for minors continue to oppose the treaty.

    * UN Framework Convention on Climate Control (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol
    UNFCCC ratified October 15, 1992. Kyoto Protocol signed November 12, 1998; never ratified by the U.S. Although President Clinton signed the Kyoto Protocol, the State Department under Bush rejected it on the grounds that it would harm the U.S. economy. U.S. representatives at the 2007 climate summit in Bali who maintained the same position were booed and widely condemned. Recently, the administration’s recalcitrance on this issue may be softening.

    (these 3 examples are taken from

  2. People negotiating this agreement will do it behind closed doors once again.

    There is no hope for a bottom to top approach.

    Yet another top to bottom.

    Just another ACTA reloaded: same people, same technics, same darkness, same unelected people, etc…

  3. Pingback: Issues with EU draft mandate for the EU – US trade agreement | Blog