EU trade policy is at an important crossroads. Following heated public debate in recent years, it is time for all stakeholders to reflect on what trade policy can and cannot accomplish and to discuss possible ways forward.

The “Civil Society Trade Lab”, jointly organised by ten civil society organisations, aims to kick-off a discussion on the future trade agenda. While taking account of existing concerns, we will explore concrete alternative approaches.

In four topical “Laboratories”, interactive workshops to test new ideas, organisations will present their alternative trade proposals and discuss them with invited experts and the audience. We invite you to join the “Social & Labour Lab”, the “Digital Trade Lab”, the “Farm, Food & Trade Lab” and the “Trade, Environment & Climate Lab”.

The workshops will be followed by a plenary session, where panelists will discuss selected outcomes from the workshops with the audience. Panelists are also invited to discuss the broader question of what trade policy can and cannot deliver.




  • 9.00 - 9.30: Welcome & registration

  • 9.30 - 10.45: Parallel workshops - Social & Labour or Trade, Environment & Climate

Social & Labour Lab

Under the auspices of ETUC

Synopsis: Through its Trade and Sustainable Development (TSD) chapters, the EU established a new way to incorporate labour standards in its free trade agreements. But what is  the real impact of these provisions on working conditions and workers’ rights in the partner countries? What other approaches offer better solutions? What role should civil society play in the negotiation and implementation of trade agreements? How could EU trade policy really contribute to  fair globalisation and benefit all?

In an interactive setting, the workshop will explore the social and labour aspects of EU trade policy in light of the Commission’s “Trade for All” strategy and add valuable insights from the U.S. perspective. Join the “Social & Labour Lab” to discuss and explore how labour provisions could and should look in future trade agreements.

Agnes Jongherius, Member of the European Parliament, Social Democrats
Liina Carr, Confederal Secretary, European Trade Union Confederation
Celeste Drake, Trade and Globalization Policy Specialist, AFL-CIO

Trade, Environment & Climate Lab

Under the auspices of T&E, ClientEarth

Synopsis:In light of the environmental, economic and social risks created by climate change, there is a need to assess the role of trade in relation to implementing the Paris Agreement and halting climate change. Ensuring synergies between trade and climate objectives has never been more urgent.

Given the global political rhetoric around globalisation, we now have an opportunity to revisit much of the classical school trade-thinking. Can trade as we know it play a constructive role in encouraging and supporting the transformation to a low carbon economy and sustainable development, or do we need to rethink current trade models?

How can we frame agreements in order to  support the delivery of Paris? How can trade agreements and institutions contribute to clean energy transition? And what is the role of civil society in all this? Join the “Trade & Environment Lab” to tackle these challenging questions and explore concrete proposals from U.S. and EU civil society.

Ben Beachy, Senior Policy Advisor, Sierra Club's Responsible Trade Program
Dr. Laurens Ankersmit, Lawyer, ClientEarth
Cécile Toubeau, Better Trade and Regulation Director, T&E
  • 11.15 - 12.30: Parallel workshops - Farm, Food & Trade or Digital Trade

Farm, Food & Trade Lab

Under the auspices of FoEE, Eurogroup for Animals, EPHA

Synopsis: Never was trade policy more hotly debated than when it touched on our daily bread. Concerns that trade agreements could lead to imports of “hormone beef” and “chlorine chicken” mobilized thousands of people across the EU. Agricultural tariffs and food security concerns are alleged to be one of the main causes for the stagnation of the Doha round negotiations.

What is the impact of trade policy on the current crisis in the European farming and food sector? How does trade of unhealthy food contribute to diet related diseases? How does trade policy relate to aims in European food and farming policies? How can it contribute to a more sustainable, health sensitive development of food production re-localising core parts of the food chain whilst ensuring high standards of human health, animal welfare, animal health, and food safety?
Join the “Farm, Food & Trade Lab” to explore these issues in an interactive setting with experts.

Olivier de Schutter, Professor at the Université Catholique de Louvain
Mute Schimpf, Food Campaigner, Friends of the Earth Europe
Nina Renshaw, Secretary General, European Public Health Alliance

Digital Trade Lab

Under the auspices of EDRi

Synopsis: Technology is part of our lives. Technology is part of our economy. Unsurprisingly, digital trade has become a hot topic in the European Union and around the world. The new generation of trade agreements includes provisions that have an impact on human rights in the online environment. Issues like privacy, trust, freedom of expression and information flows are part of the debate.

Join this interactive workshop with experts and policy-makers and discuss what type of digital trade agenda our society wants. How do we decide what should or should not be in trade agreements? If digital rights are included, what proposals should be on the table? How can we move forward? How feasible is a positive agenda that promotes the respect of rights online? And is a one-fits-all proposal for e-commerce appropriate for all trade deals? The “Digital Trade Lab” will focus on three specific topics: privacy and data protection, liability protections and net neutrality.

Jan Albrecht, Member of the European Parliament, Greens
Christophe Kiener, TiSA Chief Negotiator, European Commission
Joe McNamee, Executive Director of European Digital Rights
  • 12.30 - 13.30: Lunch break: get to know the organisers and their work on trade alternatives

  • 13.30 - 15.00: Plenary - Interactive high-level panel debate

    • Bernd Lange - Chair of the European Parliament Committee on International Trade
    • Olivier de Schutter - Professor at the Université Catholique de Louvain
    • Karl Falkenberg - Senior Adviser for Sustainable Development, European Political Strategy Centre
    • Moderated by Monique Goyens, Director General, BEUC