Motion for a resolution - B6-0078/2004Motion for a resolution



further to Question for Oral Answer B6‑0015/04
pursuant to Rule 108(5) of the Rules of Procedure
by Cristiana Muscardini
on behalf of the UEN Group
on the Generalised System of Preferences

Procedure : 2004/2554(RSP)
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European Parliament resolution on the Generalised System of Preferences

The European Parliament,

– having regard to Rule 108(5) of its Rules of Procedure,

– having regard to the Commission communication "Developing countries, international trade and sustainable development: the function of the Community's generalised system of preferences (GSP) for the ten-year period from 2006 to 2015"(COM(2004) 461),

– having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 2501/2001 of 10 December 2001 applying a scheme of generalised tariff preferences for the period from 1 January 2002 to 31 December 2004[1],

– having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 2211/2003 of 15 December 2003 amending Regulation (EC) No 2501/2001 applying a scheme of generalised tariff preferences for the period from 1 January 2002 to 31 December 2004 and extending it to 31 December 2005[2],

– having regard to its resolution of 29 November 2001 on a scheme of generalised tariff preferences for the period 1 January 2002 to 31 December 2004[3],

– having regard to its resolution of 4 December 2003 on a scheme of generalised tariff preferences for the period from 1 January 2002 to 31 December 2004 and extending it to 31 December 2005[4],

– having regard to the Communication from the Commission - Towards a reinforced culture of consultation and dialogue - General principles and minimum standards for consultation of interested parties by the Commission (COM(2002) 704),

– having regard to the Doha Declaration, adopted by the Fourth WTO Ministerial

   Conference from 9 to 13 November 2001,

– having regard to the outcome of the September 2002 World Summit on Sustainable

   Development (WSSD) held in Johannesburg (South Africa), from 26 August to 4 September 2002,

– having regard to the Monterrey Consensus of the International Conference on

   Financing for Development, adopted in Monterrey (Mexico), from 18 to 22 March 2002,

A. whereas since its creation in 1971 the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) has been a key development tool of the European Community by assisting developing countries to generate revenue through international trade,

B. whereas the Commission's Communication sets out new ten-year guidelines for the Generalised System of Preferences on the basis of which a series of three-year regulations will subsequently ensue,

C. whereas any change in the current GSP scheme will directly affect, and in some cases adversely impact, a wide variety of stakeholders,

D. whereas, as stated in the Commission Communication "Towards a reinforced culture of consultation and dialogue - General principles and minimum standards for consultation of interested parties by the Commission" (COM(2002) 704), the European Commission has committed itself to wide and transparent consultations with the actors affected by any major policy initiative,

E. whereas the GSP utilisation rate, defined as the volume of imports actually benefiting from tariff preferences as a percentage of the total volume of trade eligible under the GSP, remained at disappointing low levels during recent years (i.e. 52.5% in 2002),

F. whereas the WTO India Appellate Body in the ruling on the EC's Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) scheme on 7 April 2004 stated that developed countries may grant different tariffs to products originating from different GSP beneficiaries, provided that such differential tariff treatment meets the remaining conditions in the Enabling Clause and thus ensures non-discrimination against countries with the same development, financial and trade needs which the benefits are intended to address,

1. Welcomes the objectives set out by the Communication and endorses the Commission's resolve to improve the current Generalised System of Preferences through the simplification, stabilisation and clarification of the arrangements, the concentration of preferences on those developing countries most in need, and the enhancement of the sustainable development component;

2. Notes that, in order to achieve its declared objectives, the Commission proposes far-reaching reforms of the current GSP system, such as, amongst others, reduction of the arrangements from five to three, a new graduation system based only on market share criteria and the simplification of rules of origin;

3. Notes that this important communication, which sets out new ten-year guidelines for the GSP, does not refer to any prior thorough evaluation of the functioning and impact of the current GSP as a means to provide decision-makers with solid elements of information on both the need for reform and the potential for improvement;

4. Regrets that the Commission’s communication was not the result of a proper stakeholder consultation and does not come sufficiently in advance to allow for meaningful consultations in anticipation of the expected release of the proposal for the next regulation;

5. Recalls that customs duties have steadily fallen to an all-time low and further tariff reductions should be agreed upon as a result of WTO negotiations on the Doha Development Agenda and notes that the subsequent erosion of preferences should be addressed by the new GSP system;

6. Stresses that in order to improve its impact on the special needs of developing countries, the next GSP Regulation should:

  • a)grant preferences in conformity with the comparative advantage and export interests of developing countries themselves and not according to protectionist interests;
  • b)extend preferential access to a wide range of new products and transfer a significant number of products currently classified as "sensitive" to the "non-sensitive" category;

7. Calls on the Commission to explore the possibility of increasing the preferential margin for sensitive products;

8. Welcomes the overall objective of simplifying the graduation mechanism but notes with concern that the new graduation system outlined by the Commission is based solely on market-share criteria, disregarding development and poverty indicators, and believes that such system could discriminate against big yet poor exporters;

9. Stresses the need to carefully evaluate the pros and cons of the new graduation system and to foresee a mechanism that mitigates the adverse effects that graduation may impose on poor layers of population in developing countries;

10. Calls on the Commission to provide more information about the impact that different graduation thresholds would have on current GSP beneficiaries well in advance of the release of the next GSP Regulation;

11. Endorses the promotion of sustainable development as a key component of the GSP but draws attention to the fundamental requirement that the proposed single system of additional concessions (GSP plus) be a simple and predictable arrangement that is compatible with the WTO Enabling Clause and thus provides for objective criteria for the selection and evaluation of beneficiary countries;

12. Welcomes the Communication's emphasis on simplification and recognises the need to consolidate preferential access to the EU market under GSP with preferential access under free-trade agreements but draws attention to the complexity of implementing the proposed formula ("FTA-exclusion clause") and the uncertainty that may ensue from a lengthy reform of standing free-trade agreements;

13. Notes that rules of origin and related administrative procedures have been demonstrated to be one of the main reasons for the under-utilisation of GSP trade preferences, particularly by Least Developed Countries (LDCs);

14. Welcomes the Commission's determination to reform the system of origin rules in form, substance and procedures; considers that the aim of this reform of the system of origin rules should be to prevent their fraudulent use by means of three-way commercial transactions;

15. Calls on the Commission to explore the merits, particularly with regard to LDCs, of the replacement of partial regional cumulation of origin with cross-regional cumulation and full or global cumulation;

16. Calls on the Commission to make progress in the harmonisation of the different systems of origin rules applied by the existing trade agreements (i.e. GSP/ EBA, FTAs, EPAs);

17. Notes that, as established in the WTO Doha Declaration, in the Monterrey Consensus and the conclusions of the WSSD of Johannesburg, developing countries should be provided with technical assistance aimed at building the institutional and regulatory capacity required to capture the benefits from international trade and preferential arrangements;

18. Believes that for the EU to provide developing countries with adequate support and to be able to effectively adjust its trade policy to the needs of developing countries, it should carry out regular assessments of the impact of the GSP on the populations of developing countries;

19. Concludes that although full support is given to the objectives stated by the Commission, further clarification as to the exact details and mechanisms of implementation of the different arrangements is required for the European Parliament to be able to fulfil a more informed and definitive assessment;

20. Calls on the Council and the Commission to start the consultation process on the new GSP first implementing regulation sufficiently in advance to allow for a proper involvement and consultation of partner countries, non-state actors and EU institutions, including the European Parliament;

21. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission.