July 25, 2008 (LBO) – The extension of trade concessions from the European Union to Sri Lanka is doubtful unless the country takes action to protect human and political rights and improve press freedom, a visiting European parliamentary delegation said. “It is doubtful at the moment,” European parliamentarian Robert Evans who led the delegation told reporters after meeting government and civil society representatives in Colombo.
“The door is open. It is a question whether Sri Lanka walks through it. And to walk through it you have to make sure the stumbling blocks are removed.”
The European Union wants Sri Lanka to fully implement 27 international covenants on civil and political rights (ICCPR), some of which needs enabling legislation to be made fully effective in the island.
“The answer and conditions are very much in the hands of the Sri Lankan government who can now address those concerns and try to alleviate the fears by those in Brussels and elsewhere those who make decisions,” Evans said.
Sri Lanka gets lower than standard tariffs for European entry through EU’s Generalised System of Preferences Plus (GSP+) scheme for a range of products including garments on which tens of thousands of workers depend.
The concession expir