European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly has dismissed a case file by four global labour rights bodies against the European Commission’s alleged failure to initiate a temporary withdrawal procedure from the EU’s generalised scheme of preferences against Bangladesh.
The complainants considered that Bangladesh did not fully respect fundamental labour rights and that, therefore, the Commission should start the procedure allowing it to withdraw Bangladesh’s trade preferences under the scheme and sought intervention from the Ombudsman in this regard.
The Ombudsman on March 24 closed the inquiry as she found no maladministration, according to a circular issued by the European Commission.
In October 2016, the four trade union organisations including International Trade Union Confederation, Clean Clothes Campaign and HEC-NYU EU Public Interest Clinic had written to the European Commission, alleging that Bangladesh did not comply with its obligations in the area of fundamental labour rights and urged the Commission to investigate the matter in the context of the GSP.
Dissatisfied with the fact that the Commission had failed to launch an investigation, the labour bodies turned to the Ombudsman in June, 2018.
The Ombudsman opened an inquiry into the commission’s failure to reply to the trade unions’ October 2016 letter and invited it to explain why it had not taken action in the case of Bangladesh.
The Commission replied to the enquiry on October 16, 2018 and the complainants submitted a second complaint to the Ombudsman on July 8, 2019 regarding the substance of the Commission’s reply.
The Ombudsman noted that the complainants did not want the Commission to impose trade sanctions.
Instead, they would like the Commission to use the withdrawal procedure as a further incentive to make Bangladesh comply with its international commitments, notably regarding labour rights.
The Ombudsman also found that the Commission’s explanations as to why it has so far considered that it would not be justified to initiate a withdrawal procedure against Bangladesh were reasonable.
The Ombudsman took the view that the explanations the Commission had provided for its chosen course of action were reasonable and closed the inquiry with a finding of no maladministration, Emily O’Reilly said in her declaration.
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