Andrjey Adamczyk from Solidarnost, who is a member of the EaP Civil Society Forum Steering Committee, presented the origins and the developments regarding Eastern Partnership process and the challenges related to CSF set up and functioning.
Philippe Cuisson from the DG Trade introduced the processes around development of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreements with Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia and Armenia, particularly focusing on relations between trade and sustainability and human rights.
The DCFTAs are negotiated jointly with the Associate Agreements. Through these agreements the EU not only seeks opening of markets, but also to raise all other relevant standards, including labour ones, to the Acquis level, hence, to the EU standards. It is an exchange: access to the biggest market of the world in exchange for improving the standards.
With Ukraine the agreement was finalised on 30 March, but it can not be signed and then ratified because of two outstanding issues: the coming elections process being democratic and the issue of "selective justice" re. political opposition figures.
Georgia and Moldova have just started negotiations and there is a public consultation process opened by the DG Trade. In parallel, the EU launched sustainability impact assessment and engaged independent agency to implement it. The SIA will assess how the DCFTA will affect EaP countries, also from social, environmental and democratic standards view. It will also ensure dialog with different stakeholders, including unions.
The DCFTA have sustainable development chapter: free and fair trade could not be built on social dumping. There is also transparency chapter that provides for dialog and consultations in decision making processes.
Frederique Rychener from DG Employment informed about its initiative to continue structured dialog on employment and social policies. Unfortunately, Georgia is so far against the dialog as it does not see “added value” of it.
Petri Lempiren from the European Training Foundation informed about ETF activities, and in particular on VET system building assistance and involvement of social partners in it.
The participants also discussed the situation of EaP national platforms and the action line in a view of the next Civil Society Forum in Sweden this autumn.