Sri Lanka has made commendable progress towards abiding by the conventions needed to regain GSP+, but still more work needs to be done, the visiting delegation from the European Parliament said today.
The four-member delegation arrived in Sri Lanka on Monday to check out the ground situation as a precursor to a successful GSP+ application.
At a media briefing held at the EU Mission in Colombo, Chair of the delegation, Jean Lambert said, “Good progress has been made, but there is work still to be done. The application’s success is dependent on the tangible progress made by Sri Lanka. Therefore, we urge the government to seize the moment and make sure that they meet the criteria,”
Meanwhile, Charge d'affaires Paul Godfrey said a country which had applied for GSP+ needed to show progress in areas of 27 conventions -- of which 19 conventions were related to human rights, six to labour and two to the environment.
The members of the delegation were not in a position to reveal how many conventions Sri Lanka had made progress in.
Commenting on the time frame of the procedure of making a decision on re-awarding the GSP+ facility, the EU Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Tung-Lai Margue said it could take 8-10 months from the time the application was submitted.
“Since Sri Lanka applied in July, we are looking at a period of 10 months at the maximum, which ends in May, to make a decision. Therefore, the final answer is certain by May 12,” he said.
He said the European Commission (EC) would have to go through the application submitted by Sri Lanka first and then it would be referred to the Council of the EU and, finally, placed before the European Parliament for a vote.
The delegation, including Sajjad Karim, Thomas Mann and Ulrike Müller, met the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister, the Opposition Leader, the Chief Minister of the Northern Province and civil society organisations.
Commenting on the reconciliation process, Ms. Lambert said they had noticed a change taking place within the country, such as the setting up of the Office of Missing Persons (OMP) and the Constitutional reforms which are scheduled to be presented to Parliament by the end of November.
She also stressed the need to replace the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) in line with international standards.
“The lands occupied by the military in the north should be returned to their rightful owners. If not, financial compensation should be given. We also discussed during our meetings the importance of power devolution, in terms of decision making and budgetary allocations, to provincial levels,” Ms. Lambert said. (Lahiru Pothmulla)
Pix by Pradeep Pathirana