ISLAMABAD, Nov 15 (APP): Vice-President of European Parliament Heidi Hautala Monday said European Union (EU) considered Pakistan a ‘strong’ development partner and wanted to further deepen this bond in diverse fields.
Heidi Hautala, also a member of the Committee on International Trade of the European Parliament as well as incharge of the Review of the GSP Regulations, expressed these views in an interview with News and Current Affairs Channel of Radio Pakistan, a news release said.
She said the current visit of her delegation was from South Asia mission that worked closely with countries like Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
Vice-President of European Parliament said all the countries that were in GSP Plus status including Pakistan would have to reapply for it at the latest by 2025.
“The applicant countries must fulfill the requirements in order to get into regime again,” she said, adding the EU was ‘very carefully’ monitoring the implementation of the GSP Plus regime in Pakistan and the next monitoring mission would visit in 2022.
Answering a question regarding 27 conventions that were to be adhered to under the GSP Plus regime, she admitted that Pakistan was making progress on the issues of women rights and gender equality but there were still concerns regarding rights of each and every person in the country.
The EU, she said, wanted to help Pakistan and other GSP Plus countries to implement the international human rights conventions.
She said some new conventions would be added to the present system to encompass other areas that have evolved over the years.
In this connection, she referred to Paris Agreement on climate change and accords on good governance, and rights of persons with disabilities among others.
When asked what Pakistan could do to enhance its exports to the EU, Heidi Hautala said it would be beneficial for Pakistan to diversify its trade to the bloc.
She said Pakistan could focus on more value added products in addition to textiles, adding her aim in this review was to find ways to help and support Pakistan in creating a better business environment.
She said one of the pleasant things she observed in Pakistan was adoption of business and human rights. “This plan calls upon companies to abolish the practices of child labor, as well as forced and bonded labor. This human rights due diligence will end human rights violations at the work place.”
She said legislation was coming at the European Parliament which would oblige companies operating in the EU to eradicate human rights violations in their supply chains and it would also benefit the workers of Pakistan, besides helping the environment.
The European Parliament official said EU was strong development partner of Pakistan. She said her idea in GSP Review was “to apply the whole of government approach i.e. putting all tools together to eradicate poverty, ensuring rights of women and girls and protection of human rights.”
Replying to another question, she said rapid population growth in Pakistan was impeding the provision of education and jobs to the youth. She said empowering women could be solution to this crisis as was successfully happening in some countries of Africa.
She said she favored gender quotas that were the best possible way to give women more presence in public life. The EU envoy said effective legislation regarding gender opportunities needed to be devised and implemented in Pakistan.
Heidi Hautala said the scope of GSP Plus was very broad and it looked for development and progress in most aspects of society and economy.
She said “we need to take direction to transform our economies because we are in a planetary emergency as evidenced by recent debates and negotiations on climate change in Glasgow.”
The EU official further said “we need to urgently establish national plans on how to mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change and how to adapt to the new environment as countries are very vulnerable in South Asia.“
Terming Ten Billions Trees Tsunami program of Pakistan’s incumbent government a ‘great initiative’, she said combatting climate change was going to very deep structures of economies and societies.
In Europe, she said, enormous amounts of energy were consumed in comparison with developing countries, adding the EU could help poorer countries introducing technologies that were environment friendly from the outset.
She said the EU could also help support alternative energy resources for meeting the needs of Pakistan.
“All our development cooperation with Pakistan should have a component of environmental protection,” she said adding organic and nature based solutions must be implemented while practicing farming besides retaining conventional methods and best practices in farming.
To another question regarding youth bulge in Pakistan, she said the government needed adopting policies of population control as well as creation of more opportunities for its people.