MEPs in the Foreign Affairs Committee endorsed the new Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between the EU and Singapore on Tuesday morning.

Recently signed in parallel with the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and Investment Protection Package (IPA), the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) will provide a legal framework for the long-standing bilateral relations and boost EU-Singapore political and economic cooperation in a wide range of fields, including energy, transport, the environment, security issues, education, science and technology, international stability, non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, employment and social affairs and the protection of natural resources.

It will strengthen the common efforts to address global challenges and reinforce the EU-Singapore joint work carried out in regional and international forums. The PCA also introduces a Joint Committee composed of representatives of both sides, to ensure a proper functioning and implementation of the agreement.

Promoting academic exchanges

In a separate resolution accompanying Tuesday’s consent vote, MEPs express their support for the PCA and underline that EU-Singapore relations are built on a long history of friendship and close historical, political and economic ties. They note that the new agreement supports people-to-people exchanges, such as academic mobility under the Erasmus Mundus Programme, and facilitates more cultural exchanges in order to promote mutual understanding and knowledge of respective cultures.

MEPs also emphasise that human rights are at the centre of EU’s relations with third countries, and therefore urge the Singaporean authorities to ensure in all circumstances respect for international law, democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the UN Charter and Universal Declaration on Human Rights.

The resolution further calls on the EU to enter into a dialogue with the Singapore government to introduce an immediate moratorium on capital punishment as a step towards abolishing the death penalty in the country.

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“The approval of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with Singapore was long due and it constitutes a clear message of those who defend and want to promote an international system that is based on rules, on cooperation, and on multilateralism”: said EP rapporteur Antonio López-Istúriz White (EPP, ES).

“I also welcome the new Joint Committee composed of representatives of both sides. I firmly believe that this new partnership of political cooperation will be decisive, not only to ensure the proper functioning and implementation of the agreement, but also to set priorities and make recommendations to promote the agreement’s objectives”, he added.

The resolution was passed by 49 votes in favour, 2 against and 6 abstentions. The recommendation to consent was passed by 50 votes for, 3 against and 4 abstentions.

Next steps

The European Parliament’s International Trade Committee is set to vote on the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement and Investment Protection Package on Thursday 24 January. Once adopted by the full House, the PCA will also have to be ratified by the parliaments of all EU countries before it can formally enter into force. A plenary vote is foreseen for the February Strasbourg session.

Background

The EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement, Investment Protection Package and the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement were all signed in Brussels on 19 October 2018. The PCA with Singapore is the fourth similar agreement signed with an ASEAN country, following deals with Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam.