Italian senators ask EU to withdraw GSP benefits to ‘terror-supporting Pakistan’


ROME: The Italian Senate has placed a demand before the European Union (EU) and its Parliament to immediately suspend and or withdraw business opportunities offered to Pakistan under the European Union’s Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) because of its alleged ‘support to terror outfits operating from its soil and its poor human rights record,’ reports Times of India.

In a resolution passed recently, a critical Italian Senate or the Senato della Repubblica, which is one of the legislative houses of the bicameral Italian Parliament, told ministers of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and Economic Development in Europe, that Pakistan has “always been the cradle of international terrorism” and has ” not been able to comply with UN conventions based on human rights, workers’ rights, respect for the environment and protection of women”, and therefore, should not be allowed to remain one of the main beneficiaries of business opportunities offered under the EU’s GSP.

The resolution further went on to say that “despite this, trade between our country (Italy) and Pakistan has increased, although the development of Pakistani textiles strongly damages Italian industries.”

The Senate appealed to the ministers to start the procedures for suspension of the GSP system against Pakistan until “the country meets its obligations on human rights, implements the 27 fundamental conventions and ceases the persecution of Christians.”

Pakistan is one of the biggest beneficiaries of the GSP+ scheme, coming under the special monitoring mechanism put in place by the EU.

As the European Commission acknowledges in its 2016 report, even if Pakistan has ratified the relevant international instruments, the situation with regard to many human and labour rights remains problematic. Enforcement of human rights conventions in the country remains deficient because of social attitudes, the weakness of state institutions, and the legal uncertainties emanating from the devolution of power.

With regard to labour rights, Pakistan ranks sixth in the world on the 2016 Modern Slavery Index, with an estimated 2.1 million people (or 1.13 percent of its population) living in modern slavery. This is in clear violation of both UN and ILO conventions.

A special incentive arrangement grants further tariff concessions to countries that ratify and implement a series of international conventions. Based on systematic monitoring by the European Commission, this is the most comprehensive and detailed human rights mechanism established in the framework of the EU common commercial policy.

New legislation is being considered on conflict minerals, and the European Parliament has asked for a proposal for legislation to ban the import of goods produced using child labour.