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Procedure : 2018/0356M(NLE)
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Document selected : A9-0017/2020

Texts tabled :

A9-0017/2020

Debates :

PV 11/02/2020 - 4
CRE 11/02/2020 - 4

Votes :

PV 12/02/2020 - 11.2
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P9_TA(2020)0027

Texts adopted
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Wednesday, 12 February 2020 - Strasbourg Provisional edition
Conclusion of the EU-Viet Nam Free Trade Agreement (Resolution)
P9_TA-PROV(2020)0027A9-0017/2020

European Parliament non-legislative resolution of 12 February 2020 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion of the Free Trade Agreement between the European Union and the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam (06050/2019 – C9-0023/2019 – 2018/0356M(NLE))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (06050/2019),

–  having regard to the draft Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the European Union and the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam (06051/2019),

–  having regard to the draft Council decision on the conclusion, on behalf of the Union, of the Investment Protection Agreement between the European Union and its Member States, of the one part, and the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam, of the other part (05931/2019),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Articles 91(1), 100(2), 207(4), first subparagraph, Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a)(v), and Article 218(7) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) (C9-0023/2019),

–  having regard to the Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Partnership and Cooperation (PCA) between the European Union and its Member States, of the one part, and the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam, of the other part, signed in Brussels on 27 June 2012, which entered into force in October 2016(1),

–  having regard to the Framework Participation Agreement, signed on 17 October 2019, which will facilitate Vietnam's participation in European Union-led civilian and military crisis management operations and show strong commitment from both sides to a rules-based multilateral approach to international peace and security,

–  having regard to the opinion of the Court of Justice of the European Union of 16 May 2017 in procedure 2/15(2), pursuant to Article 218(11) TFEU, requested on 10 July 2015 by the Commission,

–  having regard to its resolution of 5 July 2016 on a new forward-looking and innovative future strategy for trade and investment(3),

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘Trade for all - towards a more responsible trade and investment policy’,

–  having regard to the Council decision of 22 December 2009 to pursue bilateral FTA negotiations with individual member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN),

–  having regard to the negotiating directives of 23 April 2007 for a region-to-region FTA with ASEAN member states,

–  having regard to its resolution of 9 June 2016 on Vietnam(4),

–  having regard to its resolution of 14 December 2017 on freedom of expression in Vietnam, notably the case of Nguyen Van Hoa(5),

–  having regard to its resolution of 15 November 2018 on Vietnam, notably the situation of political prisoners(6),

–  having regard to the decision of the European Ombudsman of 26 February 2016 in case 1409/2014/MHZ on the European Commission’s failure to carry out a prior human rights impact assessment of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement(7),

–  having regard to the Treaty on European Union (TEU), and in particular Title V thereof on the Union’s external action,

–  having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), in particular its Articles 91, 100, 168 and 207 in conjunction with Article 218(6)(a)(v),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions on child labour of 20 June 2016,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions on business and human rights of 20 June 2016,

–  having regard to the economic impact of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement(8),

–  having regard to the 2019 Universal Periodic Review on Vietnam undertaken by the UN Human Rights Council,

–  having regard to the conclusions following its fact-finding mission to Vietnam (28 October to 1 November 2018) and the Commission’s evaluation of May 2018 on the country’s progress in tackling illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing following the notification by the Commission of a ‘yellow card’ on 23 October 2017,

–  having regard to its legislative resolution of 12 February 2020(9) on the draft decision,

–  having regard to Rule 105(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the opinions of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Committee on Development and the Committee on Fisheries,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on International Trade (A9-0017/2020),

A.  whereas Vietnam is a strategic partner for the European Union, and whereas the EU and Vietnam share a common agenda, namely to stimulate growth and employment, improve competitiveness, fight poverty and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as well as a strong commitment to open, rules-based trade and to the multilateral trading system;

B.  whereas this is the second bilateral trade agreement concluded between the EU and an ASEAN member state and is an important stepping-stone towards a region-to-region FTA; whereas this agreement, along with the FTA between the EU and the Republic of Singapore to which Parliament gave its consent on 13 February 2019, will also serve as a benchmark for the agreements the EU is currently negotiating with the other main ASEAN economies;

C.  whereas 90 % of future world economic growth is predicted to be generated outside Europe, with a significant part occurring in Asia;

D.  whereas Vietnam joined the WTO in 2007 and is now an open and pro-free trade economy, as shown by its 16 trade agreements with 56 countries;

E.  whereas Vietnam is a founding member of the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and a party to the recently concluded negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP);

F.  whereas Vietnam is a booming, competitive and connected economy with almost 100 million citizens, a growing middle class and a young and dynamic workforce, although it remains a lower-middle income economy faced with specific development challenges, as illustrated by its position on the UNDP human development index, which currently stands at 116 out of 189 countries;

G.  whereas Vietnam is also one of the fastest-growing countries in ASEAN, with average GDP growth of around 6,51 % in the period 2000-2018; whereas Vietnam is estimated to continue growing at similarly strong rates in the upcoming years;

H.  whereas the EU is currently Vietnam’s third largest trading partner after China and South Korea, and its second largest export market after the US; whereas EU exports to the country in the last ten years have been growing annually at an estimated average rate of 5 to 7 %; whereas the economic impact assessment carried out by the Commission predicted ‘export gains of EUR 8 billion by 2035 for EU firms’, with Vietnam’s exports to the EU being ‘expected to grow by EUR 15 billion’; whereas it is important to maximise the opportunities offered by this agreement in the most inclusive manner for businesses, in particular SMEs;

I.  whereas the Council has emphasised that it is in the EU's interest to continue to play a leading role in implementing the 2030 Agenda in a coherent, comprehensive, and effective manner, as an overarching priority of the EU, for the benefit of its citizens and for upholding its credibility within Europe and globally; whereas in the mission letter sent to all commissioners-designate President-elect von der Leyen insisted that all commissioners will ensure the delivery of the UN Sustainable Development Goals within their policy area;

J.  whereas Vietnam still faces challenges in relation to sustainable development, human, political and civil rights, with particular reference to the situation of minorities, fundamental freedoms, freedom of religious belief and freedom of the press, and the exploitation of natural resources (e.g. sand, fisheries and timber), waste management and pollution; laments the fact that the EU and Vietnam continue to take differing stances on the recommendations of international human rights bodies concerning Vietnam and on the implementation of those recommendations, for instance those relating to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR); whereas the forced labour of prisoners remains a concern in Vietnam;

K.  whereas despite the economic and political reforms initiated in 1986, Vietnam remains a one-party state which does not recognise fundamental freedoms such as freedom of association, freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of the press; whereas the repressive nature of the regime and the grave and systematic violation of human rights in Vietnam have been documented by the European External Action Service in the 2018 EU annual report on human rights and democracy in the world, highlighting in particular the growing number of political prisoners in the country;

L.  whereas in its resolution of 15 November 2018 Parliament called on the government of Vietnam to ‘repeal, review or amend all repressive laws, notably its Criminal Code’; whereas this call was not responded to by Vietnam; whereas none of the recommendations to amend or repeal abusive provisions in the penal legislation made in the framework of the latest Universal Periodic Review in March 2019 were accepted by Vietnam;

M.  whereas the EU-Vietnam FTA recognises the importance of ensuring the conservation and sustainable management of living marine resources and ecosystems, together with the promotion of sustainable aquaculture, and provides in its Article 13.9 for cooperation in the fight against IUU fishing;

N.  whereas some fish-based products, such as those with CN codes 1604 14 21 and 1604 14 26, are not included in the duty-free regime in the FTA owing to their sensitivity for the European Union;

O.  whereas it is acknowledged that IUU fishing constitutes an organised crime of the seas which has disastrous environmental and socio-economic impacts worldwide and creates unfair competition for the European fishing industry;

P.  whereas Vietnam is the world’s fourth biggest fish producer, followed by the European Union, and the fourth biggest producer of aquaculture products;

Q.  whereas the EU is the world’s largest trader in fisheries and aquaculture products in value terms, having generated a trade volume of more than EUR 2,3 billion in 2017; whereas the EU imports more than 65 % of the fish products it consumes and is one of the largest foreign investors in Vietnam;

R.  whereas Vietnam has so far secured protection for one geographical indication (GI) product – Phú Quốc, a variety of fish sauce – as a protected designation of origin (PDO) within the EU quality schemes; whereas the FTA provides for the protection of 169 EU GIs for wines, spirits and food products in Vietnam and reciprocal protection for 39 Vietnamese GIs in the EU;

S.  whereas Vietnam has a market of 95 million people with long-established traditions in the consumption of fish and aquaculture products, and is the EU’s second largest trading partner in the ASEAN region; whereas fisheries could herald, for European small and medium-sized enterprises, a strong potential for growth and significant benefits; whereas this sector is of vital interest for European prosperity and innovation;

1.  Stresses the fact that the EU-Vietnam FTA (EVFTA) is the most modern, comprehensive and ambitious agreement ever concluded between the EU and a developing country and should serve as a reference point for the EU’s engagement with developing countries and especially with the ASEAN region; recalls that Vietnam will remain a GSP beneficiary for a transitional period of two years once the FTA is in force;

2.  Notes that negotiations began in June 2012 and were concluded in December 2015 after 14 negotiating rounds, and regrets subsequent delays in bringing forward the agreement for signature and ratification - notably the delay of the Council in requesting the consent of the European Parliament in due time before the European elections;

3.  Stresses the economic and strategic importance of this agreement, as the EU and Vietnam share common goals – to stimulate growth and employment, boost competitiveness, fight poverty, bolster the rules-based multilateral trade system, achieve the SDGs, and support workers’ rights and fundamental freedoms; emphasises the geopolitical considerations that render EU partners in the Far East key players to engage with, in a complex local geo-economic environment;

4.  Notes that Article 21 of the Treaty on European Union stipulates that the actions of the Union on the international scene shall be guided by the principles of democracy, the rule of law, the universality and indivisibility of human rights and fundamental freedoms, respect for human dignity, the principles of equality and solidarity, and respect for the principles of the UN Charter and international law; stresses the need to respect the principle of aligning policies with development cooperation objectives in accordance with Article 208 TFEU;

5.  Underlines the significance of the agreement in terms of competitiveness of EU businesses in the region; notes that European companies are facing increased competition from countries with which Vietnam already has free trade agreements, notably the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP);

6.  Hopes that the agreement, together with the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement, will mark further strides towards setting high standards and rules in the ASEAN region, helping pave the way for a future region-to-region trade and investment agreement; stresses that the agreement also sends out a strong signal in favour of free, fair and reciprocal trade, in times of growing protectionist tendencies and serious challenges to multilateral rules-based trade; highlights that the agreement helps the EU strengthen its presence in the ASEAN region, taking into account the recent conclusions of the Regional Comprehensive, Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the entry into force of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP); also stresses that the agreement allows the EU to promote its standards and values in the region; recalls its full support for multilateralism and the importance of achieving a sustainable and ambitious reform of the WTO that can ensure rules-based international trade;

7.  Underlines that the agreement will eliminate over 99 % of tariffs(10); notes that Vietnam will liberalise 65 % of import duties on EU exports upon entry into force, with the remainder of the duties being gradually eliminated over a 10-year period; notes also that the EU will liberalise 71 % of its imports upon entry into force and that 99 % will be duty-free after a 7-year period; points out that the agreement will also contain specific provisions to address non-tariff barriers for EU exports, which frequently constitute a significant hurdle for SMEs; considers that the EVFTA can help in addressing the trade deficit of the EU with Vietnam, tapping into the growth potential of the ASEAN country in the upcoming years;

8.  Stresses the importance of ensuring effective and reliable controls, including through enhanced customs cooperation in Europe, to prevent the agreement becoming a gangway for the entry into Europe for goods from other countries;

9.  Notes the improved access under this agreement to Vietnamese public procurement in line with the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA), as Vietnam is not yet a member of the GPA; underlines that the government procurement chapter of the EVFTA achieves a degree of transparency and procedural fairness comparable to other FTAs that the EU has signed with developed countries and more advanced developing countries; underlines that the agreement must not restrict domestic procurement rules or room for manoeuvre in procurements when it comes to setting requirements on what is to be procured and demands on areas such as the environment, labour and employment conditions;

10.  Welcomes the fact that the provisions on rules of origin included in the EVFTA follow the EU approach, and that their main features are identical to those laid down in the EU's GSP as well as in its trade agreement with Singapore; calls on the Commission to monitor the proper and faithful implementation of these rules, with special attention to national content, and to step up action against any kind of manipulation and abuse, such as repackaging products coming from third countries;

11.  Notes that Vietnam will no longer be able to use cumulation from other trading partners that are GSP beneficiaries in the region to be able to comply with the rules of origin; stresses that rules of origin in free trade agreements should not unnecessarily break existing value chains, especially with countries that currently benefit from the GSP, GSP+ or EBA schemes;

12.  Stresses the fact that around 169 EU geographical indications will benefit from recognition and protection on the Vietnamese market at a comparable level to that of EU legislation, in view of the fact that Vietnam is an important export market in Asia for EU food and drink exports; considers that this list should be enlarged in the near future; stresses furthermore that some EU agri-sectors, rice amongst others, could be negatively affected by the provisions of the FTA; in that respect calls on the Commission to constantly monitor the flow of imports of those sensitive products and make a full utilisation of the provisions of the safeguard clause regulation whenever the legal and economic requirements are met, in order to avoid any possible negative impact on the EU agri-sectors as a direct consequence of the implementation of the FTA;

13.  Welcomes the strong SPS chapter which will set up a single and transparent procedure for the approval of EU exports of food products to Vietnam, in order to accelerate the approval of EU export applications and avoid discriminatory treatment; commends Vietnam's commitment to applying the same import requirements to like products coming from all EU member states;

14.  Recalls that, in terms of services, Vietnam goes beyond its WTO commitments, provides for substantially better access in a number of business subsectors, and offers new market access to sectors such as packaging services, trade fair and exhibition services or rental/leasing; underlines that Vietnam has opened up cross-border higher education services for the first time; welcomes the use of a positive list in the services schedule;

15.  Recalls that that a swift ratification of the EVFTA can help Vietnam go further in improving IPR protection and can guarantee the highest standards of production and best quality for consumers; stresses that Vietnam will accede to the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Internet Treaties, which set standards to prevent unauthorised online access to or use of creative work, protect the rights of owners, and address the challenges that new technologies and methods of communication pose to IPR; stresses the strategic importance of standard-setting capacity in a region that is witnessing tendencies of decoupling on the normative and standardisation fronts; reiterates that a lack of strong regulatory frameworks could trigger a race to the bottom and negative competition on important legal provisions; points out that promoting access to medicines remains an essential pillar of EU policy and that the IPR provisions in the agreement in relation to pharmaceutical products are specifically adapted to the level of development, the current regulatory framework and the public health concerns in Vietnam;

16.  Regrets that the agreement does not contain a specific chapter on SMEs, but notes that different provisions on SMEs are nonetheless included in several of its parts; stresses that the implementation phase will be crucial for introducing an action plan to help SMEs make use of the opportunities offered by the agreement, starting by increasing transparency and disseminating all relevant information, as this sector of the economy is of vital interest for prosperity and innovation in Europe; considers that in a potential revision of the agreement the Commission should explore the possibility of introducing an SME chapter;

17.  Welcomes the provisions for cooperation on animal welfare, including technical assistance and capacity-building for the development of high animal welfare standards, and encourages the Parties to make full use of them; urges the Parties to develop an action plan for cooperation on animal welfare as soon as possible, including a programme for training, capacity-building and assistance in the framework of the agreement, with a view to safeguarding animal welfare at the time of killing and better protecting animals on farms and during transport in Vietnam;

18.  Underlines that the agreement specifies the EU’s right to apply its own standards to all goods and services sold in the Union, recalling its precautionary principle; underlines that the EU’s high standards, including in national laws, regulations and collective agreements, should never be seen as trade barriers;

19.  Regrets that the agreement does not include a provision on cross-border data transfers; considers that in a future revision of the agreement such a provision, respecting EU on data protection law and the protection of privacy, should be included, and stresses that any future outcome must be subject to the consent of Parliament; notes in this regard that the General Data Protection Regulation is fully compatible with the general exceptions under the GATS;

20.  Underlines that the EVFTA includes a comprehensive and binding chapter on Trade and Sustainable Development (TSD), dealing with labour and environmental matters based on widely accepted multilateral conventions and norms; points out that the enforceability of the TSD chapter could be significantly improved, in the first place through consideration of, among various enforcement methods, a sanction-based mechanism as a last resort, and secondly through a reform of the Domestic Advisory Group (DAG) system, as repeatedly called for by Parliament and also mentioned in the mission letter for the new EU Trade Commissioner; stresses that the TSD chapter is designed to contribute to broader EU policy objectives, notably on inclusive growth, the fight against climate change, the promotion of human rights, including workers’ rights, and, more generally, the upholding of EU values; emphasises that the agreement is also an instrument for development and social progress in Vietnam, supporting the country in its efforts to improve labour rights and enhance protection at work and protection of the environment; calls for the swift establishment and operability of broad and independent DAGs, and calls on the Commission to cooperate intensively with the Vietnamese authorities and provide them with the necessary support; calls on the Joint Committee to immediately begin work on strengthening the enforcement of the TSD provisions;

21.  Calls for the establishment of a Joint Committee of the Vietnamese National Assembly and the European Parliament to improve coordination and review of the measures of the TSD chapter and the implementation of the agreement as a whole; welcomes the favourable position of the Chairperson of the National Assembly of Vietnam towards this call for action, and calls for a Memorandum of Understanding between both parliaments to be negotiated rapidly;

22.  Welcomes the concrete steps taken by the Vietnamese Government so far, including amending labour legislation and the legal framework on the minimum age at work, with the aim of abolishing child labour and making commitments on non-discrimination and gender equality at work; expects this new legislation to be completed by implementing decrees and fully enforced by the Vietnamese authorities as soon as possible;

23.  Acknowledges the decrease of child labour in Vietnam in recent years, recalling that Vietnam was the first country in Asia and the second in the world to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child; further calls on the Vietnamese Government to present an ambitious roadmap for the eradication of child labour by 2025 and to eliminate forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking by 2030; looks forward to the ILO’s assessment in good time prior to ratification of the agreement; calls on the EU and Vietnam to cooperate to develop an action plan, accompanied by available EU programmes, to fight child labour, including the necessary due diligence framework for enterprises;

24.  Stresses, however, that despite this progress important challenges remain, and urges the Vietnamese authorities to engage more on a progressive workers’ rights agenda through concrete measures, welcoming in this regard  the adoption of the reformed Labour Code on 20 November 2019; also welcomes the ratification of fundamental ILO Convention 98 (collective bargaining) on 14 June 2019 and the commitment by the Vietnamese Government to ratify two remaining fundamental conventions, namely 105 (abolition of forced labour) in 2020 and 87 (freedom of association) in 2023, and calls on the Vietnamese authorities to provide a credible roadmap for their ratification; stresses the central role of implementing decrees in the implementation of the revised Labour Code and ratified ILO conventions and therefore underlines the need for the implementing decrees to the reformed Labour Code to incorporate the principles of ILO conventions 105 and 87; stresses its willingness to engage in an active dialogue on this issue; calls on the Vietnamese Government to continuously inform the EU on the progress of ratification and implementation of these outstanding conventions; recalls the significance of such commitments that portray truly positive trends in a developing country, while stressing the vital role of effective implementation of the provisions on human rights, ILO conventions and environmental protection; stresses that specific criteria included in the implementing legislation, such as thresholds and registration formalities, should not result in effectively precluding independent organisations from competing with state-run organisations; also stresses that penal legislation should be brought into line with the relevant ILO conventions; stresses that Vietnam’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the newly reformed Labour Code should be applied in a manner that does not render practically impossible the exercise of freedoms, especially as regards the freedom of assembly of independent labour unions; commends the pre-ratification conditionality stance taken by the EU;

25.   Welcomes the envisaged cooperation on the trade-related aspects of the ILO Decent Work Agenda, in particular the interlinkage between trade and full and productive employment for all, including young people, women and people with disabilities; calls for a swift and meaningful start to this cooperation;

26.  Notes that Vietnam is one of the countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, in particular extreme weather events such as storms and floods; urges the Vietnamese Government to introduce effective adaptation measures and to ensure the effective implementation of legislation relating to the protection of the environment and biodiversity;

27.  Welcomes the commitment to effectively implement multilateral environmental agreements such as the Paris Agreement on climate change, and to act in favour of the conservation and sustainable management of wildlife, biodiversity and forestry; recalls that Vietnam is one of the most active countries in the broader ASEAN region in showcasing its commitment to the agenda of the Paris Agreement; emphasises that a swift ratification of the EVFTA as well as full respect and effective implementation of the Paris Agreement will contribute to ensuring the highest possible standards for environmental protection in the region;

28.  Underlines the strategic importance of Vietnam as a crucial partner of the EU in South-East Asia and among the ASEAN countries, specifically, but not exclusively, in relation to climate change negotiations, good governance, sustainable development, economic and social progress and the fight against terrorism; stresses the need for Vietnam to become a partner in the advancement of human rights and democratic reform; notes that Vietnam is ASEAN chair for 2020; stresses the need for the EU and Vietnam to fully respect and implement the Paris Agreement;

29.  Welcomes the agreement between the EU and the Government of Vietnam establishing a framework for the participation of Vietnam in EU crisis management operations, which was signed on 17 October 2019; underlines that Vietnam has become the second partner country in Asia to sign a Framework Participation Agreement with the EU; stresses that the agreement constitutes a significant step forward in relations between the EU and Vietnam;

30.  Recalls that the Agreement provides for specific measures to fight against IUU fishing and to promote a sustainable and responsible fishery sector, including aquaculture; acknowledges in this regard Vietnam’s engagement to address IUU fishing by having applied for full membership of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), by having become an official member of the Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA), by adopting the revised Fisheries Law in 2017, which takes into consideration international and regional obligations, agreements and recommendations from the Commission, and by implementing a national action plan for combating IUU fishing;

31.  Recognises, however, the huge challenges still facing the Vietnamese authorities with regard to the overcapacity of the country’s highly fragmented fishing fleet and the overexploitation of marine resources, noting the yellow card Vietnam has been given as well as the measures already taken to improve the situation; calls for further action in line with the findings of the November 2019 review mission, and for continuous monitoring and scrupulous checks regarding Vietnam’s efforts to ensure that the country keeps making progress in combating IUU fishing and to guarantee full traceability of fishery products arriving on the Union market so as to exclude illegal imports; recalls that the revocation of the yellow card must be conditional on the full and effective implementation of all the recommendations made by the EU in 2017; calls on the Commission to provide for safeguard measures for fisheries products in future agreements, such as the possibility of suspending preferential tariffs, until the yellow card for IUU fishing has been lifted;

32.  Acknowledges Vietnam’s engagement to address illegal logging and deforestation through the conclusion of a Voluntary Partnership Agreement on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (VPA/FLEGT) with the EU; notes that this agreement has been in force since 1 June 2019 and introduces mandatory due diligence obligations for importers; welcomes the open and constructive participation of all relevant stakeholders in Vietnam in this process;

33.  Underlines the crucial importance of effectively implementing all provisions and chapters of the agreement, from market access to sustainable development and enforcement of all commitments; considers that all of the TSD provisions should be read as providing legal obligations in international law and in the FTA; highlights in this context the new post of Chief Trade Enforcement Officer, who will work directly under the guidance of the Trade Commissioner, and the commitment of Parliament’s Committee on International Trade to assume an active role in the monitoring of the implementation of the EVFTA engagements; underlines furthermore that European companies, especially SMEs, should be encouraged to make full use of the benefits of the agreement and that any hurdle regarding implementation should be remediated immediately;

34.  Stresses that the entry into force of the agreement will create the conditions for a major and fruitful cooperation between the two parties with a view to the effective implementation of the provisions on sustainable development, which could bring about the improvement of the political and human rights situation in the country; underlines that the proper implementation of the EVFTA can advance Vietnam in complying with European standards on the environment, human rights, good governance and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR); welcomes in this context the commitment of Vietnam to present its national implementation plan for complying with the provisions of the EVFTA;

35.  Recalls previous experience which shows that the correct implementation of FTAs and the presence of EU companies on the ground can lead to improvements in the human rights situation, CSR and environmental standards; asks EU companies to continue to play a major role in bridging standards and good practices with a view to the creation of the most suitable and sustainable business environment in Vietnam through the EVFTA;

36.  Calls for the detailed and rigorous monitoring of the agreement and for commitments to ensure that shortcomings are addressed rapidly with our trading partner; calls on the EU to support the necessary capacity-building measures and for specific technical assistance in order to help Vietnam implement its commitments via projects and expertise, notably where linked to environmental and labour provisions; reminds the Commission of its reporting obligations to the European Parliament and the Council on the implementation of the EVFTA;

37.  Stresses that the involvement of independent civil society and social partners in monitoring the implementation of the agreement is crucial, and calls for the preparation and swift establishment of DAGs following the entry into force of the agreement, as well as for a broad and balanced representation of independent, free and diverse civil society organisations within those groups, including independent Vietnamese organisations from the labour and environmental sectors as well as human rights defenders; supports the efforts of civil society organisations in Vietnam to develop proposals in this regard, and will support capacity-building efforts;

38.  Recalls that the EU-Vietnam relationship is grounded in the PCA, which covers non-economic areas, including political dialogue, human rights, education, science and technology, justice and asylum and migration;

39.  Acknowledges the institutional and legal link between the FTA and the PCA, which ensures that human rights are placed at the core of the EU-Vietnam relationship; stresses the significance of truly positive trends in terms of human rights for the swift ratification of this agreement, and calls on the Vietnamese authorities to take concrete measures to improve the situation as a signal of their commitment; recalls its demand of 15 November 2018, notably with respect to the reform of the penal legislation, the death penalty, political prisoners and fundamental freedoms; urges the Parties to make full use of the agreements in order to improve the urgent human rights situation in Vietnam, and underlines the importance of an ambitious human rights dialogue between the EU and Vietnam; points out that Article 1 of the PCA contains a standard human rights clause which can trigger appropriate measures, including, as a last resort, the suspension of the PCA, and implicitly of the EVFTA, or parts thereof, without delay;

40.  Regrets that the Commission has failed to undertake a comprehensive human rights impact assessment of the FTA; calls on the Commission to carry out such an assessment; asks it to systematically include human rights in its impact assessments as and when they are carried out, including for trade agreements that have significant economic, social and environmental impacts; points out that the Commission has also committed to carrying out an ex post economic, social and environmental impact assessment;

41.  Calls for the EU and Vietnam to set up an independent monitoring mechanism on human rights and an independent complaints mechanism, providing affected citizens and local stakeholders with effective recourse to remedy, and a tool to address potential negative impacts on human rights, notably through the application of the state-to-state dispute settlement mechanism to the TSD chapter;

42.  Expresses its concerns regarding the implementation of the new cybersecurity law, notably on localisation and disclosure requirements, online surveillance and control, and the protection of personal data measures, which are not compatible with the EU’s value-based and liberalisation trade agenda; welcomes the willingness to engage in an intensive dialogue, including the commitment of the Chairperson of the National Assembly of Vietnam to include both parliaments in the discussion and deliberation of the implementing decrees; calls furthermore on the Vietnamese authorities to take concrete measures and welcomes the EU’s assistance in this regard;

43.  Recalls that Article 8 of the TFEU states that ‘in all its activities, the Union shall aim to eliminate inequalities, and to promote equality, between men and women’; welcomes the fact that both Vietnam and the EU have signed the WTO Buenos Aires Declaration on Women and Trade and calls on the Parties to strengthen the commitments to gender and trade in the agreement; calls for the conditions of women to be improved so that they may benefit from this agreement, including through capacity-building for women at work and in business, promoting women's representation in decision-making and positions of authority, and improving women's access to, and participation and leadership in, science, technology and innovation; recalls the Commission´s commitment to include Gender Chapters in future EU trade agreements, including those reached after conclusion of this agreement; calls on the EU and Vietnam to commit themselves to evaluate the agreement’s implementation and to include a specific chapter on Gender and Trade in its future review;

44.  Demands the immediate release of all political prisoners and members of civil society such as bloggers or independent labour unionists who are currently detained or convicted, notably those named in Parliament’s resolutions of 14 December 2017 and 15 November 2018;

45.  Calls on the Commission and the EEAS to formally report to Parliament on Vietnam’s commitment to making progress on a series of human rights issues, as referred to in Parliament’s resolution of 17 December 2015(11);

46.  Stresses that the agreement has already fostered changes in many areas through dialogue, and sees it as the basis for further improvements for the people through dialogue;

47.  Welcomes the agreement, which will create more free and fair trade opportunities between the EU and Vietnam; considers the European Parliament’s consent to be justified, given that Vietnam takes steps to improve the civil and labour rights situation so as to move in the direction of its commitments;

48.   Calls on the Council to swiftly adopt the Agreement. 

49.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the EEAS, the governments and parliaments of the Member States and the government and parliament of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam.

(1) OJ L 329, 3.12.2016, p. 8.
(2) Opinion of the Court of Justice of 16 May 2017, 2/15, ECLI:EU:C: 2017:376.
(3) OJ C 101, 16.3.2018, p. 30.
(4) OJ C 86, 6.3.2018, p. 122.
(5) OJ C 369, 11.10.2018, p. 73.
(6) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2018)0459.
(7) https://www.ombudsman.europa.eu/en/decision/en/64308
(8) See: https://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/docs/2019/february/tradoc_157686.pdf
(9) Texts adopted, P9_TA-PROV(2020)0026.
(10) EU exports to Vietnam: 65 % of duties to disappear as soon as the FTA enters into force, and the remainder to be phased out over a period of up to 10 years (for example, in order to protect the Vietnamese motor sector from European competition, duties on cars will remain for the full 10 years); Vietnamese exports to the EU: 71 % of duties to disappear on entry into force, the remainder to be phased out over a period of up to seven years.
(11) European Parliament non-legislative resolution of 17 December 2015 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion, on behalf of the Union, of the Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Partnership and Cooperation between the European Union and its Member States, of the one part, and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, of the other part (OJ C 399, 24.11.2017, p. 141).

Last updated: 19 February 2020Legal notice