The basis for this input is the belief that international trade should promote sustainable social equality, justice and development in a globalised world and should not be left unregulated and controlled by the market. International trade should primarily serve the people and bring added value to the economy. EAPN rejects the notion that the main objective of free trade agreements and the TTIP should be “removing barriers to trade and investment”. EAPN insists that the free trade agreements and any removing of barriers to trade and investment must be at the service of the achievement of sustainable, social, economic and environmental development.
Subjecting the objective of removing barriers to trade and investment to sustainable development should respect existing social and environmental standards and democratic principles, and should prevent relocation of jobs. The principles of an ecologically sustainable social market economy must prevail over the values of free trade in any free trade agreement.
The EU is not purely an economic community, but sees itself as a community of values, in which the citizens are at the centre.
EAPN is particularly concerned about the impact of enhanced free trade on socially disadvantaged people, such as those who work in low-wage sectors, benefit from social services or receive state benefits. Moreover, the entry into force of such free trade agreements is likely to further increase poverty and exclusion, through an abrupt erosion of social, employment, and environmental rights and standards, as further explored in the sections below.