MANILA — The European Union (EU) on Monday committed to continue working closely with the Philippines through the ongoing Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) monitoring process, guaranteeing support to ensure that progress is made on implementing 27 international conventions it adhered to.
GSP+ beneficiaries export around 66 percent of all EU tariff lines duty-free in return for their commitment to effectively implement 27 international core conventions covering labor rights, human rights, good governance and environmental concerns.
On January 19, the European Commission adopted its second biennial GSP report to the European Parliament and the Council, including an assessment of the Philippines’ implementation of these conventions.
On labor rights, EU noted the government’s socio-economic plan, which addresses some of the pertinent labor issues aiming to end the so called ‘endo’ scheme.
Per its report, a key issue to be further addressed is ensuring investigations of violence against trade unions and prevention of such cases, as well as the alignment of labor legislation with International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention 87 on freedom of association.
With regard to environmental protection and climate change, the report acknowledged the Philippines’ ratification of the Paris Agreement and the progress it made in tackling illegal ivory trade, also in cooperation with the customs office.
“Progress has also been noted in areas such as gender equality, people trafficking, health, education, social-economic rights, and the fight against corruption,” it added.
CONCERNS ON EJKS
Meanwhile, the bloc cited concerns on the issue of alleged extrajudicial killings in the country’s campaign against illegal drugs, as well as the possible reintroduction of the death penalty and the lowering of the age of criminal responsibility.
At present, the EU and the Philippines have an ongoing dialogue on the latter’s implementation of the 27 international conventions.
“As part of the Philippines’s commitment under GSP+, the EU and the Philippines have an ongoing dialogue on the implementation of 27 international conventions on human and labour rights, the environment, and good governance,” said Ambassador Franz Jessen, head of the EU delegation to Manila.
“We see progress in some areas for instance labour and environment, and have a frank discussion on others such as death penalty,” he added.
The current GSP Regulation in place since January 2014 requires the Commission to submit a biennial report to the European Parliament and to the Council on the effects of the GSP over the previous two year period.
Per EU, an accompanying ‘Staff Working Document’ focuses on GSP+ beneficiaries. The 2016-2017 document is the second report.
The first report on the effects of GSP in general and GSP+ in particular, covering the period 2014-2015, was published in January 2016.
For the 2018-2019 GSP+ monitoring cycle, the bloc will engage with each GSP+ beneficiary on the conclusions of the report and priority actions.
The EU will continue to support ILO efforts to improve GSP+ countries’ compliance with ILO reporting and implementation obligations.
It is also funding a three-year project worth EUR4.5 million to empower local civil society organisations to contribute more effectively to the implementation of the 27 conventions.
The ten monitored GSP+ beneficiaries during the period 2016-2017 were Armenia, Bolivia, Cabo Verde, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, and Sri Lanka.