Shedding Light on the Role of the EU’s Chief Trade Enforcement Officer: Dispute Over Labor Commitments Under EU – Korea FTA and EU Enforcement Regulation
Chief Trade Enforcement Officer
As early as July 2019, Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission (“Commission”), proposed a new role within the Commission to monitor the implementation of European Union’s (“EU”) trade agreements. In particular, and in line with her announcement of an ambitious climate policy, the so-called “the European Green Deal”, in December 2019 to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent in the world by 2050, President von der Leyen confirmed that the EU’s efforts to enforce the sustainable development commitments of EU trade agreements would be further enhanced with the appointment of a Chief Trade Enforcement Officer. The Chief Trade Enforcement Officer would monitor and enforce environmental and labor protection obligations of EU trade agreements with third countries. The Commission officially created the post of Chief Trade Enforcement Officer on 12 December 2019, and the post is expected to be filled in early 2020.
At this point, however, it remains unclear who will be appointed as the first Chief Trade Enforcement Officer, and what exact role one in this position will play. So far, Phil Hogan, the Commissioner for Trade, stated during a hearing before the European Parliament in September 2019, that the Chief Trade Enforcement Officer will be at the level of Deputy Director-General of DG TRADE and broadly have authority to confront countries that are found to be in breach of the WTO Agreement and EU free trade agreements. Specifics are scant.
However, the on-going dispute between the EU and the Republic of Korea (“Korea”) over labor commitments under the EU – Korea Free Trade Agreement (“FTA”) and Regulation (EU) No. 654/2014 concerning the exercise of the EU’s rights for the application and enforcement of international trade rules (“Enforcement Regulation”) may shed light on the potential role of a Chief Trade Enforcement Officer.Continue reading