Sri Lanka holds urgent talks with EU MEPs ahead of vote

An EU fact finding delegation had recently raised concerns over labour rights in Sri Lanka ahead of a decision being taken on Sri Lanka’s application for GSP plus. “Collective bargaining and the right to strike should be an integral part of this,” she said, according to the Free Trade Zones and General Services Employees Union.Lola Sánchez Caldentey said that the European Union will not grant a special trade status to Sri Lanka if the money coming from this advantage remains only in the pockets of a few businessmen.The European Union will decide next month if Sri Lanka is duly entitled, or not, to be granted GSP plus. This status is a component of the EU policy for developing countries which offers trade incentives to those which implement core international conventions on human and labour rights, sustainable development and good governance. (Colombo Gazette) The Government held urgent talks with several EU Members of Parliament (MEP) ahead of the vote at the EU Parliament tomorrow on a resolution not to grant Sri Lanka the GSP plus trade concession.Deputy Foreign Minister, Dr. Harsha de Silva said that he met several Members of the European Parliament on issues related to the Sri Lanka GSP+ vote coming up in the European Parliament tomorrow. “While we have broad support there are some groups who have objected on various grounds. Our Ambassador Rodney Perera and I made many calls on such MEPs to explain all the good work the Government has done and is doing to improve democracy, governance, rule of law, human rights and reconciliation. By and large they are satisfied with the progress albeit some areas have been slow. I am confident we will make it through,” he said. The Fact Finding Mission, which included Members of the European Parliament Anne-Marie Mineur and Lola Sánchez Caldentey, visited Sri Lanka to assess the country’s progress on human and labour rights.Anne-Marie Mineur said that it is the Government´s obligation to effectively guarantee the fundamental rights of workers and their trade unions.