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Monday, 04 April 2011

Developing countries: MEPs vote to prolong EU system of preferences




Parliament backed an extension of the EU’s generalised tariff preferences for developing countries from 1 January 2012 to 31 December 2013 in a vote on Thursday, after receiving a pledge from the European Commission on information sharing. Parliament had decided to "extend a great deal of trust to the Commission and extend the Generalised System of Preferences by dropping our amendments", said lead MEP Helmut Scholz (GUE/NGL, DE). International Trade Committee MEPs had voiced concern that the Commission had not involved Parliament in the way prescribed by the Lisbon Treaty. The Commission gave assurances that information-sharing and Parliament's other concerns about the decision-making process surrounding the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) will be revisited in negotiations on the general (Omnibus) review of the scheme later this year. MEPs therefore agreed by an overwhelming majority (598 in favour, 5 against and 16 abstentions) to extend the GSP until such a review can be completed. "The Commission has heard the EP's concerns on the decision making aspects of GSP loud and clear", said Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht before the vote. "We reconfirm our full and active support for the EP to play its role in trade policy as foreseen in Lisbon Treaty, and are committed to discuss, in a constructive spirit, the Parliament's concerns" in the context framework of the Omnibus proposals, he continued, adding that "the Commission will make every effort to facilitate the EP's request to be informed of the work related to essential aspects of GSP, and will inform the Parliament immediately, and in parallel with Council, about developments in GSP, as well as provide access to all relevant documents." Mr Scholz said he "welcomes the tabling of the Omnibus 1 package, and the willingness of the Commission to start intensive negotiations about the proposals within, and we very much urge the prompt tabling of Omnibus 2."

Source: European Parliament