MEPs want to extend rules on relaxed tariffs for developing countries

European Parliament
19.09.2023 / 12:33

MEPs roll over the rules on generalised scheme of preferences (GSP), which had been designed to help developing countries

Current GSP regulation is set to expire at the end of 2023

Negotiations with the Council to agree on new rules have been paused

The International Trade Committee voted to extend current rules on the scheme of generalised tariff preferences after talks with the Council on the new rules were paused in June.


MEPs on the Parliament’s International Trade Committee, on Tuesday, voted to prolong the existing rules concerning the generalised scheme of preferences (GSP), an EU policy aimed at reducing or completely removing import duties from products entering the EU market from over 60 vulnerable developing countries. The draft report only amends the date of application of the regulation currently in place, extending it until 31 December 2027. No other changes to the current rules have been introduced.


The draft report was adopted with 29 votes to 0 and 0 abstentions.


The current GSP regulation is set to expire at the end of 2023, and the negotiations between the European Parliament and the Council took off in January 2023 to establish new rules. In June, talks were paused as the gap between the position of the Parliament and member states could not be bridged. As a consequence, the current rules were prolonged. Parliament reiterated its position that preferential trade access under the GSP should not be made conditional on the readmission of third-country nationals.




Bernd Lange (S&D, DE), Chair of the Committee on International Trade, said: “The trade committee is taking its responsibility to make sure a plan B is in place. Even so, we are still hopeful an agreement on the review can be reached. This will require a change in approach by the Council on readmissions. We need to preserve the GSP as a development tool. And we should not let already-agreed improvements go to waste.”


Heidi Hautala (Greens/EFA, FI), rapporteur, said: “The GSP is a core instrument to promote sustainable development in partnership with developing countries and to significantly improve the implementation of international human rights and environmental standards. By dealing swiftly and efficiently with the rollover, Parliament underlines it will not let beneficiaries down. The rollover is an unfortunate consequence of not being able to reach an agreement on the ongoing review of the GSP regulation. A lot has been achieved, so now it is time for Parliament and the Spanish presidency to go the extra mile and make the review a reality.”


Next steps


The adopted mandate needs to be confirmed by the whole Parliament, possibly during the first plenary sitting in October. MEPs are urging the Spanish presidency to align member states' position more closely with that of the Parliament, in order to continue talks between the Parliament and the Council to reach an agreement on the new rules.




The Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) has been the EU's preferential trade arrangement with developing countries since 1971. Under this scheme, developing countries get to pay reduced import duties when exporting to the EU. For countries meeting specific economic vulnerability criteria, and ratifying and implementing 27 international conventions on human and labour rights, environmental standards, and good governance, the EU completely waives customs duties on select products. This policy covers more than 60 countries and benefits approximately two billion people.


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