The first is the process: there’s a lack of transparency around negotiations, and a lack of participation from key groups, particularly local NGOs in timber-trading partners countries.
The second is addressing the EU’s trade objectives. Rather than being driven solely by economic growth, gaining market access, and securing investors’ rights - these deals should help achieve sustainable development. This isn’t just desirable, but absolutely necessary in a world facing climate change and ecological collapse.
One reason for launching our trade campaign was we saw an opening when the European Commission released the “trade for all” strategy, which made a commitment to cleaning the EU’s supply chains from environmental harm and human rights abuses. We also felt that Fern could share a lot from our experience of working on FLEGT - because it uses trade as an incentive to tackle those problems. As with the VPA process, we’re working to open space for civil society in the producer countries who the EU’s negotiating trade agreements with.
The campaign has only been going about a year.