Document stages in plenary
Document selected : O-000037/2017

Texts tabled :

O-000037/2017 (B8-0217/2017)

Debates :

PV 17/05/2017 - 21
CRE 17/05/2017 - 21

Votes :

Texts adopted :


Parliamentary questions
4 May 2017
O-000037/2017
Question for oral answer
to the Commission
Rule 128
Bernd Lange, Sajjad Karim, on behalf of the Committee on International Trade

 Subject: State of play of the implementation of the Sustainability Compact in Bangladesh

In 2013 the Commission, together with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and key trading partners, set-up a Sustainability Compact to improve health and safety at work and strengthen labour rights in the ready-made garment (RMG) sector in Bangladesh. The Compact is supported by the Accord on Fire and Building Safety, which brings together EU brands and the Bangladesh RMG industry, and will be followed up on with another meeting on 18 May 2017. In November 2016, the Committee on International Trade (INTA) sent a delegation to Bangladesh to follow up on the matter on the ground. While progress was made in enhancing health and safety at work, improvements for labour rights remain a challenge. Since INTA’s visit took place, trade union leaders have been arrested, the labour law for the Export Process Zones (EPZ) remains in breach of international standards, and crimes against trade unionists often go unpunished. Despite progress on fire and building safety, the signatories to the Accord are concerned about the slow pace of completing remediation on critical safety issues. The Commission and the European External Action Service (EEAS) have launched an enhanced dialogue on labour and human rights to improve compliance with the principles of the conventions listed in the GSP Regulation, which Bangladesh, as an ‘Everything but arms’ beneficiary, is expected to respect. In a letter sent by the Commission services to the Government of Bangladesh on 16 March, the Commission asked for ‘sufficient, substantial, meaningful progress together with a sound and time-bound strategy’ by 18 May 2017 on the following four points:

– the tabling of amendments to the 2013 Labour Act;

– ensuring that the law governing the EPZs allows for full freedom of association;

– investigating as a matter of urgency all acts of anti-union discrimination;

– ensuring that applications for union registration are acted upon expeditiously and are not denied unless they fail to meet clear and objective criteria set forth in the law.

1. What exactly constitutes ‘sufficient, substantial, meaningful progress’ and what would the ultimate consequence be if this ‘progress’ is not achieved?

2. The last Technical Status Report lists a number of challenges that Bangladesh still needs to address. The ILO pointed out in June 2016 that Bangladesh is in serious breach of its obligations under ILO Convention 87 on Freedom of Association. What progress has been achieved in this respect since then?

3. What are the next steps in the process of this enhanced dialogue with Bangladesh? How much evidence has the Commission seen that Bangladesh may be seriously and systematically violating the principles laid down in the conventions listed in the GSP Regulation?

4. What are the expected deliverables of the next meeting of the Sustainability Compact partners in Dhaka in mid-May?

5. What is the state of play of discussions to prolong the Accord on Fire and Building Safety, which is set to come to an end in May 2018?

Last updated: 27 June 2017Legal notice