Pakistan worries about failure to satisfy EU’s compliance of GSP+ criteria

Pakistan worries about failure to satisfy EU's compliance of GSP+ criteria

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is worried about the European Union‘s (EU) Generalized Schemes of Preference Plus GSP+ status review proposed to take place this month in Islamabad.

Sergio Restelli, an Italian political advisor, author and geopolitical expert, writing in Inside Over said that during the 6th round of the EU-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue (Brussels: December 7, 2021), the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission (HR/VP) Josep Borrell, expressed concern over the human rights situation in Pakistan.

The EU had then observed that Pakistan had failed to make meaningful advances in protecting human rights, particularly in relation to the country’s controversial blasphemy laws.

The recent mob lynching of Sri Lankan factory manager Priyantha Kumara in Sialkot in December 2021 on the accusations of blasphemy has further dented Islamabad’s claims of improvement, reported Inside Over.

While its own efforts for progress in compliance are slow and inadequate, it would also need to comply with 27 UN Conventions to the full satisfaction of the EU for the retention of GSP+ facility, especially in the absence of political patronage from the UK post the Brexit.

Further, the new revised GSP+ scheme of the EU, which would be operative with effect from 2024, stipulates 5 new pre-requisites along with the previous 27 UN conventions for availing GSP+ facility.

The additional criteria under the new and revised scheme proposed in September 2021 by the EU, is expected to further reduce Pakistan’s chances for acquiring the EU facility, said Restelli. On its part, Islamabad is lobbying intensively to retain its GSP+ status as this plays a crucial role in boosting its exports.

Islamabad had managed to get GSP+ status in the EU due to political patronage by the UK. Post-Brexit, Pakistan has lost the support of 73 former British MEPs who used to vote for the country and promote its case. In the absence of political patronage from the UK, it would be increasingly hard for Pakistan to retain GSP+, especially if it fails to take measures for full compliance of the requisite criteria of the EU.

The EU delegation meanwhile, would focus on the country’s real progress during the last two years in the state of human rights including those of women, minorities, labour and children, despite Islamabad’s claim regarding perceptible progress on these facets.

Given the nature of rule of law in the country and its feudal and patriarchal nature of society, this remains a tall order, wrote Restelli. (ANI)