By Jamila Najmuddin
The European Union (EU) is attempting to establish contact with the Sri Lankan government over the GSP+ trade benefits to the country after the deadline by the EU for the government to respond to its conditions ended today.
EU Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives Bernard Savage speaking to Daily Mirror online said that the government had not met the deadline which was issued in order to enable the Commission to revise its recommendations on the status of the GSP plus.
However the Ambassador said that it was not a fixed deadline and the Commission would continue to seek dialogue with the Sri Lankan government.
“We still hope that we will be able to reach a dialogue with the Sri Lankan government. We issued the deadline simply because of the fact that if the Council did not meet in August it would enable us then to engage in the administrative process of providing that recommendation if we did have a positive response. So it is not a fixed deadline,” Ambassador Savage told Daily Mirror online.
He added that the EU still remained hopeful that the government would respond to the Commissions proposals in writing.
Meanwhile a spokesman for the EU in Brussels also said that the EU was still seeking contact with the Sri Lankan authorities and it may take a few more days before contact could be established between the two sides.
The EU official also clarified that the offer to address outstanding issues through a six month extension was made in good faith but it was an option the EU could pursue only if the Sri Lankan government was ready to continue engagement.
“It normally takes at least 4 to 6 weeks to get a political proposal through EU decision-making, hence the invitation for a response by 1 July. The 15 February council decision could be reversed only through a new proposal,” the EU spokesman in Brussels told Daily Mirror online.
The EU had written to the government putting down 15 conditions to be addressed in order for a recommendation to be put forward for the EU to temporarily extend the GSP plus trade benefits to Sri Lanka which ends next month.
The government has so far rejected the conditions and said it will also not formally respond to the EU letter. (Daily Mirror online)