circular economy,  free trade agreement

Free trade agreement New Zealand-EU approved by European Parliament

On 22 November 2023 the European Parliament approved the free trade agreement between the EU and New Zealand. Now, before entering into force, this agreement should be approved by all the Member states parliaments.

As declared: “…“Today is a good day for the EU and global rule-based trade. Our vote is a very clear signal of our commitment to negotiating new EU free trade agreements, of which we have seen too few in this parliamentary term. While we live at different ends of the world, the EU and New Zealand are close, trusted, reliable and like-minded partners. Together, we are driving global rules-based trade forward against the backdrop of a worldwide wave of protectionism and isolationism,” rapporteur Daniel Caspary (EPP, DE) and “I am a proud chair of the International Trade Committee today. Because in this global world of fragmentation, we managed to agree on the most progressive and sustainable trade agreement by the European Union ever. This is a big success,” Bernd Lange (S&D, DE), chair of the International Trade Committee, said in the plenary debate on Tuesday…”.

The available text, apart the sections on the management of the preferential origin, has two chapters on the sustainability.

Indeed, there is the section 7 on the sustainable food system  and section 19 on trade and sustainable development.

In particular, the first chapter laid down that: “…1. The Parties, recognising the importance of strengthening policies and defining programmes that contribute to the development of sustainable, inclusive, healthy, and resilient food systems, agree to establish close cooperation to jointly engage in the transition towards sustainable food systems (hereinafter referred to as “SFS”). 2. This Chapter applies in addition to, and without prejudice to, the other Chapters of this Agreement related to food systems or to sustainability, in particular Chapter 6 (Sanitary and phytosanitary measures), Chapter 9 (Technical barriers to trade) and Chapter 19 (Trade and sustainable development)…” It is interesting to underline that the development of sustainable, inclusive, healthy and resilient food system covers a central role in the structure of this free trade agreement.

Moreover, the European Union and New Zealand, “… recognise that food systems are diverse and context-specific, encompassing a range of actors and their interlinked activities across all areas of the food system, including the production, harvesting, processing, manufacturing, transport, storage, distribution, sale, consumption and disposal of food products…”.

The mentioned statements are encompassed in the following framework of principles:

  • food production methods and practices which aim to improve sustainability, including organic farming and regenerative agriculture, amongst others;
  • the efficient use of natural resources and agricultural inputs, including reducing the use and
  • risk of chemical pesticides and fertilisers, where appropriate;
  • the environmental and climate impacts of food production, including on agricultural
  • greenhouse gas emissions, carbon sinks and biodiversity loss;
  • contingency plans to ensure the security and resilience of food supply chains and trade in times of international crisis;
  • sustainable food processing, transport, wholesale, retail and food services;
  • healthy, sustainable and nutritious diets;
  • the carbon footprint of consumption;
  • food loss and waste, in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
  • reduction of the adverse environmental effects of policies and measures linked to the food system;
  • indigenous knowledge, participation and leadership in food systems, in line with the Parties’ respective circumstances

The international contect in which the free trade agreement between the EU and New Zealand is located is made by the followings agreements:

  • Agenda 21;
  • Rio Declaration on Environment and Development;
  • the Plan of Implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development of 2002;
  • the ILO Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization, adopted at Geneva on 10 June 2008 by the International Labour Conference at its 97th Session (hereinafter referred to as the “ILO Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization”);
  • the Outcome document of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development entitled “The Future We Want” endorsed by United Nations General Assembly Resolution A/RES/66/288, adopted on 27 July 2012;
  • the United Nations Agenda “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, adopted on 25 September 2015 by United Nations General Assembly Resolution A/RES/70/1 (hereinafter referred to as “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”) and its Sustainable Development Goals.

In other words, it seems that this agreement will boost the environmental compliance of the European Union with the European sustainability regulations.