Today, the Socialists and Democrats voted in favour of a trade agreement with Vietnam in the European Parliament’s Trade Committee. Before accepting the trade deal, the S&Ds had worked towards and obtained important labour and sustainable development guarantees from the Vietnamese government.
Bernd Lange, Chair of the European Parliament’s Trade Committee and S&D spokesperson on the Vietnam trade deal, said:
“For Social Democrats trade can never be an end in itself, but must be a tool to make people’s lives better. I am proud that during the negotiation of the EU-Vietnam trade deal, we exerted our leverage and set in motion positive change that will improve the situation of millions of workers in Vietnam. At the beginning of last year, Vietnam still had not signed three core ILO Conventions. Due to pressure from the S&D Group, the government has since ratified the convention on collective bargaining, passed a fundamental labour reform and committed to a concrete roadmap for the ratification and implementation of the two outstanding conventions on forced labour and freedom of association. To secure this progress and continue building on it, we voted in favour of the trade agreement with Vietnam.”
Kathleen Van Brempt, S&D spokesperson on trade, added:
“Over the past years, we as an S&D Group have put all our pressure to bear to ensure that labour and human rights were at the top of the political agenda of the EU-Vietnam negotiations. Now, we have obtained from the Vietnamese government both tangible results and a roadmap setting out concrete benchmarks for the implementation of labour rights. We will make sure to monitor future steps very closely, especially the involvement of civil society in the new Domestic Advisory Groups and the handling of new cyber-security law. Although the Vietnamese government has cooperated with the EU on human rights, the S&D Group is still concerned about the situation. We will continue to call upon the European Commission to use all the instruments in its toolbox to push for positive change in Vietnam.”
Note to the editor:
Under the lead of S&D Shadow Rapporteur Jude Kirton-Darling and INTA Chair Bernd Lange the European Parliament had requested further engagements from the Vietnamese government. Inter alia, they could secure advances in the following fields:
- The Vietnam labour code reform was ratified on 20 November 2019
- Detailed roadmap on both the implementation of the labour law as well as ratification of outstanding ILO conventions
- Ratification of ILO convention 98 (collective bargaining) in June 2019
- Ratification of ILO Convention 105 (forced labour) scheduled for June 2020
- Ratification of ILO Convention 87 (freedom of association) until 2023 latest
- Commitment by the EU Commission to closely monitor implementation of the agreements, in particular the commitments on trade and sustainable development, and promote continued reforms
- Strong Representation of Civil Society in the Domestic Advisory Group
- Close Involvement of the EU Delegation and Embassies in monitoring the human rights situation
The EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and Investment Protection Agreement (IPA) were signed in Hanoi on 30 June 2019 and referred for Parliament’s consent on 1 July 2019. The European Parliament will vote on both the trade and the investment deals in the February plenary session in Strasbourg.