Procedure : 2012/0251(COD)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A7-0122/2013

Texts tabled :


Debates :

PV 22/05/2013 - 18
CRE 22/05/2013 - 18

Votes :

PV 23/05/2013 - 13.2

Texts adopted :


REPORT     ***I
PDF 151kWORD 81k
25 March 2013
PE 504.017v02-00 A7-0122/2013

on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 552/97 temporarily withdrawing access to generalized tariff preferences from Myanmar/Burma

(COM(2012)0524 – C7-0297/2012 – 2012/0251(COD))

Committee on International Trade

Rapporteur: David Martin



on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 552/97 temporarily withdrawing access to generalized tariff preferences from Myanmar/Burma

(COM(2012)0524 – C7-0297/2012 – 2012/0251(COD))

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2012)0524),

–   having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 207 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C7-0297/2012),

–   having regard to Article 294(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–   having regard to Rule 55 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on International Trade (A7-0122/2013),

1.  Adopts its position at first reading, taking over the Commission proposal;

2.  Calls on the Commission to refer the matter to Parliament again if it intends to amend its proposal substantially or replace it with another text;

3.  Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council, the Commission and the national parliaments.


Since 1971, the EU has granted non-reciprocal trade preferences to developing countries ensuring that exporters from these countries pay lower duties on some or all of what they sell to the EU. This gives them vital access to EU markets contributing to the growth of their economies. This scheme is known as the "Generalised Scheme of Preferences".

The GSP regulation which sets out all the provisions for the application of the scheme, Council Regulation (EC) No 732/2008(1) of 22 July 2008, states that the preferential arrangements provided for in this Regulation may be withdrawn temporarily, in respect of all or of certain products originating in a beneficiary country, for the serious and systematic violation of principles laid down in fifteen out of the twenty-seven international conventions listed in its Annex, on the basis of the conclusions of the relevant monitoring bodies. These conventions also cover core labour rights, such as ILO Convention 29 on forced labour.

Myanmar/Burma's access to the GSP tariff preferences was temporarily withdrawn in 1997 by Council Regulation (EC) No 552/97(2), due to routine and widespread practice of forced labour, confirmed by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), in a special procedure of its Commission of Inquiry. But the above mentioned regulation No 552/97 also says that the temporary withdrawal shall come to an end, following a Commission report showing that the practices which caused the withdrawal no longer exist.

Since 2011, Myanmar/Burma has been undertaking serious efforts of openness and reform, also in the area of forced labour, such as:

- repeal of inadequate laws and their replacement with new laws in line with ILO conventions;

- issuing of orders to military against use forced of labour;

- improved enforcement of laws (including punishment of perpetrators);

- signing of MoU with ILO re. elimination of forced labour;

- earmarking funds for awareness raising and public works;

- Action Plan with ILO to ensure full implementation of ILO recommendations.

Against this background, on 13 June 2012, the International Labour Conference (ILC) lifted restrictions, which excluded the Government of Myanmar/Burma from receiving ILO technical cooperation and assistance and suspended for one year the ILO request to its members to review their relationships with Myanmar/Burma to ensure forced labour is not being used in those relationships.

The European Commission, in its report COM (2012) 525, therefore draws the conclusion that the violations cannot be any longer considered as "serious and systematic" and thus the tariff preferences should be reinstated according to the current GSP Regulation. In practical terms, it proposes to repeal Council Regulation (EC) No 552/97 as of 13 June 2012, the date of adoption of the ILC Resolution.

Burma/Myanmar, being an LDC, would therefore have duty-free and quota-free access for all products excepts for arms and ammunitions (Everything but Arms). The proposal only concerns preferences in 2012 and 2013. As from 1 January 2014, preferences will be granted under Regulation (EU) 978/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council, which will have to be amended under a separate procedure.

Your rapporteur shares the analysis of the European Commission and considers that the legal requirements are fulfilled for the preferences to be reinstated. But, while there has been a lot of progress, forced labour is not yet eradicated in Burma. Practices of unpaid forced labour conscripted primarily by the military still prevail in several of the states, as credible reports show. While being prosecuted, penal sanctions for the exaction of forced or compulsory labour have not yet been strictly enforced against military or civilian perpetrators.

The Commission should therefore continue to monitor the developments in Myanmar/Burma with respect to forced labour and react to them in accordance with the procedures in force, including, if necessary, with renewed withdrawal procedures.

Progress in Burma remains fragile. It is important that the proposed measures will contribute to a sustainable peace and a positive development. Future trade and investment activity by European business in Burma/Myanmar should therefore promote the practice of the highest standards of integrity and corporate social responsibility, where transparency will be of essence. Accountability and transparency measures at European level will be necessary, to avoid human rights abuses, but also as a way to protect the long-term value of investments. However, this is partly outside the scope of this repeal regulation. Your rapporteur therefore proposes not to amend the regulation, but to address these issues in a separate procedure.


              Council Regulation (EC) No 732/2008 of 22 July 2008 applying a scheme of generalised tariff preferences for the period from 1 January 2009 to 31 December 2011 and amending Regulations (EC) No 552/97, (EC) No 1933/2006 and Commission Regulations (EC) No 1100/2006 and (EC) No 964/2007 (OJ L 211, 6.8.2008, p. 1).


              OJ L 85, 27.3.1997, p. 8.



Reinstatement of Myanmar/Burma’s access to generalized tariff preferences


COM(2012)0524 – C7-0297/2012 – 2012/0251(COD)

Date submitted to Parliament





Committee responsible

       Date announced in plenary






Committee(s) asked for opinion(s)

       Date announced in plenary







Not delivering opinions

       Date of decision








       Date appointed

David Martin





Discussed in committee





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Result of final vote







Members present for the final vote

William (The Earl of) Dartmouth, Laima Liucija Andrikienė, Maria Badia i Cutchet, Nora Berra, David Campbell Bannerman, Daniel Caspary, María Auxiliadora Correa Zamora, Marielle de Sarnez, Yannick Jadot, Metin Kazak, Franziska Keller, Bernd Lange, David Martin, Vital Moreira, Paul Murphy, Cristiana Muscardini, Franck Proust, Helmut Scholz, Peter Šťastný, Robert Sturdy, Henri Weber, Iuliu Winkler, Jan Zahradil, Paweł Zalewski, Dan Dumitru Zamfirescu

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Josefa Andrés Barea, Silvana Koch-Mehrin, Elisabeth Köstinger, Katarína Neveďalová, Marietje Schaake

Substitute(s) under Rule 187(2) present for the final vote

Petri Sarvamaa, Patrice Tirolien

Date tabled


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