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EU Trade Policy aims to promote sustainability, human rights

"The 14 beneficiary countries, as well as EU and international institutions and civil society organisations, will now have an opportunity to respond to the findings of the report. The first report on the concrete effects of the GSP+, the EU trade policy instrument published by the European Commission and the EU High Representative to encourage third countries to comply with core international  standards in the areas of human rights, labour rights, environmental protection and good governance has been released."

 

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The 14 beneficiary countries, as well as EU and international institutions and civil society organisations, will now have an opportunity to respond to the findings of the report. The first report on the concrete effects of the GSP+, the EU trade policy instrument published by the European Commission and the EU High Representative to encourage third countries to comply with core international standards in the areas of human rights, labour rights, environmental protection and good governance has been released.

Compliance assessment for beneficiary nations

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The countries involved pay no duties when exporting a range of products to the EU through this system, which builds on the existing Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP). In return, they must have ratified 27 core international conventions – including the United Nations (UN) conventions on human rights and the conventions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) on labour rights – and agree to cooperate in monitoring their implementation. This report provides the first compliance assessment.

According to Federica Mogherini, High Representative and Vice-President of the European Commission, development is deeply linked not only to economic growth but also to social improvements. That is why the EU is working, together with the 14 countries involved in the GSP+, to improve the situation on human rights, with a particular focus on labour rights, social justice, environmental protection and good governance. The 14 countries have shown political and institutional engagement, which needs to be followed up also by implementation. “We have not fully achieved all the goals yet. Making a difference on the ground is what counts and this will be at the heart of the EU's monitoring and dialogue during the next 2-year reporting period,”says Mogherini.

Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Trade stated that they have done much work over the past two years, engaging with vulnerable countries who asked for enhanced access to the EU market. All 14 countries that benefit from this arrangement have made significant efforts to improve the situation as regards human rights, labour rights, environmental protection, and good governance. However, the situation is far from perfect. Progress is slow, as this report clearly shows; but with this report, the EU identified shortcomings, which equips us with better knowledge and tools to make improvements in the years to come. We will now continue with our dialogue and cooperation to make sure that the countries continue to implement the 27 conventions.

The 14 countries covered in the report are: Armenia, Bolivia, Cabo Verde, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Georgia, Guatemala, Mongolia, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and the Philippines.

As per the report, all 14 GSP+ beneficiary countries demonstrated progress. They strengthened their domestic institutions responsible for an effective implementation of the 27 key international conventions, improved relations with the international bodies – including various UN agencies – responsible for monitoring of the conventions' implementation, and upgraded their reporting activities. These are significant steps paving the way towards further practical changes. In areas where progress has been slower, the EU will engage in dialogue with these countries in order to find ways of speeding up the process.

Intensive contacts between the GSP+ countries, the European Commission and the EEAS have allowed for a detailed assessment of each country's progress, as well as of the main challenges and working priorities for the coming years.

 
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