Today, Catherine Bearder led a seminar of international experts in looking at the role of social and environmental standards in international trade agreements.
Clauses concerning environmental, human rights, social and Corporate Social Responsibility standards increasingly play a role in the negotiations of the trade agreements which the EU conducts on both a bilateral and multilateral level.
"I strongly believe that freedom, fairness, and sustainability must be central to the EU's trade agenda."
"Globally the EU's social and environmental record in trade diplomacy is already way ahead of other major trade players, such as the USA and China. Despite this, the EU remains a major market for some of the world's most corrupt and least democratic countries."
"In many cases, our trade policy in the EU contradicts other foreign policy goals - such as the spread of democracy, the achievement of the MDGs and the reduction of global corruption."
"On the other hand, against the backdrop of recession, and with mounting pressure from rapidly growing competitors such as China, Brazil and India, we must be careful not to weaken the EU's position on the global trading market and alienating potential partner countries."
Catherine organised this seminar to ask the question of how we can weigh and advance the sometimes contradictory aims of economic efficiency, equity, and sustainability? In assessing free, fair, and sustainable trade, is it possible to create a coherent approach to Liberal trade objectives?
"As a member of the European Parliament's Committee on International Trade, I feel that this is an issue which must be addressed."
"Together with my Liberal Colleague Mr Michael Theurer MEP, I organised this seminar to hear arguments from a range of experts in the field."
The Chairman of the Parliament's Trade Committee, together with many MEPs and representatives of the European Commission were in attendance.