Five years on from the implementation of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the European Union and Peru, a EU delegation visited Peru to look into complaints by civil society organisations and the Peru Europe Platform (PEP). These relate to Peru’s alleged failure to comply with Title IX of the FTA on sustainable development. The delegation consisted of six experts on trade, environmental and labour issues.

Title IX is designed to enable civil society organisations, representing different sectors (labour, environment and business), to get together, to discuss, and to come up with joint solutions to perceived non-compliance with sustainable development principles.

The complaint was submitted in October 2017. Through emblematic cases, it looked into alleged violations by the Peruvian government of a series of provisions contained in the FTA. The EU and its member states were asked to assess the information provided and make appropriate recommendations to the Peruvian authorities to remedy the situation. The full text of the complaint is available.

In August, EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom issued a letter to the Peruvian government over implementation of these agreements on sustainable development. In the letter, she highlighted Peru’s failure to fully honour Title IX and requested the government to put in place an action plan to remedy deficiencies in the areas of labour rights and the environment.

On 29 August, the Minister of Tourism and Foreign Trade responded to Malmstrom’s letter indicating that “it is necessary to make a distinction between potential concerns related to the implementation of the agreement, on which Peru has always shown a disposition to sustain a collaborative dialogue, and other issues that go beyond the implementation of the agreement”. The letter also spoke of the existing national mechanisms for dialogue with Peruvian civil society that conform to the FTA’s provisions.

Prior to the EU visit to Lima, the Peruvian government produced a 70-page document outlining its response with regard to the civil society complaint. In both documents, the Peruvian government sustained its position by denying responsibility for failures to comply with Title IX and rejecting the need to elaborate a plan of action as requested by Commissioner Malmstrom.

According to the Peruvian authorities, the government continues its efforts to reduce labour informality and to strengthen existing institutional mechanisms to protect the environment. This, despite repeated evidence showing the negative effects brought forward by the weakening of environmental standards to promote foreign investment. This we have reported on previous occasions (see, for example, “Environment Ministry protest at being sidelined on hydrocarbons policy”, and “Ombudsman issues a damning report on the regulation of environmental impacts”).

During the visit, the EU delegation met with civil society organisations, industry and union representatives as well as government authorities from several ministries, including Tourism and Foreign Trade, Environment, and Labour.

For their part, Peruvian civil society organisations produced a detailed report containing a preliminary proposal that outlines what a ‘plan of action’ to address Peru’s shortcomings to comply with Title IX should contain. It includes a detailed analysis of Peru’s failings in the areas of labour rights, the environment, and adequate mechanisms of civil society participation, as well as recommendations for the government to remedy the situation. We will share the document, which was handed to the EU’s delegation, once it is available online.

The delegation’s findings are expected to be published in an official European Commission position paper towards the end of the year.