The Impact of Labour Rights Commitments in EU Trade Agreements: The Case of Peru

Publication Date: 
04 April 2017
Publication Language: 
Appearing in: 
Politics and Governance

While the inclusion of labour rights in European Union (EU) trade agreements has become an ‘unobjectionable norm’, analyses of their impact have been largely absent from the literature. This article aims to partly fill this gap in existing research by examining the impact of labour rights commitments in the EU–Peru–Colombia agreement, with particular reference to the agricultural sector in Peru. Following a brief background overview of labour rights in agriculture in Peru, we draw up the analytical framework for assessing the impact of these commitments. We discern three distinctive legal commitments and find that they are flexible and conservative, also compared to provisions in other EU trade agreements. Subsequently, we assess the impact of these commitments by analysing to what extent they are being upheld in practice. Empirical evidence from several sources, including field research, shows that the Peruvian government has failed to implement the labour rights commitments in several respects. In the conclusions, we point to the cautious role of the EU, which has scope to monitor Peru’s labour rights compliance more proactively.