DG TRADE is the European Commission Directorate which commissioned an external consultancy for the Sustainability Impact Assessment (SIA) of the EU-Mercosur Agreement. An SIA is an instrument used by the Commission to support trade negotiations conducted by the EU Trade Commissioner on behalf of the European Union to aid our trade negotiators in conducting sound, evidence-based and transparent trade negotiations with partner countries. Accordingly, SIAs are independent assessments produced by external consultants to provide in-depth analysis of the potential economic, social, human rights, and environmental impacts of trade negotiations.
DG TRADE first conducted a Trade Sustainability Impact Assessment on EU-Mercosur in 2009. However, since that time, several factors led to the Commission revisiting that Assessment, including new and emerging trade flows between the EU and Mercosur region, and updated Commission policy on the inclusion of human rights issues as part of SIA considerations.
DG TRADE commissioned a new EU-Mercosur SIA in March 2017 with the publication of Terms of Reference for an updated SIA. This was followed by an Inception Report in January 2018 published by LSE consulting which provided for an overview of the proposed framework for conducting the sustainability assessment analysis and methodologies to be employed, including the consultations activities for the study.
On 4th October 2019, the European Commission published the draft interim SIA report for the EU-Mercosur Association Agreement. According to the report, the Agreement can be expected to have a positive impact on the economies of all parties to the agreement – raising wages and contributing to a reduction in inequalities.
Civil society groups were given an opportunity to comment on the interim report up until the end of October. The independent consultants are now working on a draft final report that should be with the Commission before the end of the year. Civil Society groups will again be afforded the opportunity to comment on the final draft report with their reflections interspersed within the final report where appropriate.
The final report is expected to be published in early 2020 and will be published in advance of the final legal text of the EU-Mercosur Association Agreement, which is currently undergoing a legal scrubbing exercise and is not expected to be tabled until later next year.
In the meantime, the Government has committed to undertake a full economic and environmental sustainability assessment of the agreement for our economy. Terms of Reference for this impact assessment are currently being developed. This study will inform the Irish Government’s approach to this Agreement when the final legal texts are tabled later in 2020.