S&Ds demand further labour and human rights guarantees from Vietnam before they can accept the trade deal

S&D MEPs have voiced their concern that there are still some pending commitments that Vietnam should deliver before the Socialists and Democrats can back a trade agreement that has been negotiated between the EU and the Asian country.

Led by the S&Ds, members of the European Parliament from four political groups – S&D, EPP, Renew and ECR – earlier this week sent a letter to the Prime Minister of Vietnam, Nguyễn Xuân Phúc, and to the European Commission, demanding further commitments on the respect of human rights and labour standards.

The international trade committee in the European Parliament will be voting on this trade deal in January. S&Ds want to see a binding roadmap for the implementation of important commitments in the trade and sustainable development chapter, before they decide on their final voting position.

Kathleen van Brempt, coordinator of the committee for international trade (INTA), said:

“It is encouraging that Vietnam has taken ambitious steps for the reform of its Labour Code, which will improve the lives of millions of workers. Sadly, we have also seen regression when it comes to human rights and the freedom of expression. Vietnam’s human rights obligations under the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement are clear and legally binding. We cannot ratify the trade agreement unless we see concrete improvements.” 

Jude Kirton-Darling, shadow rapporteur on the Vietnam Free Trade Agreement, added:

“We know from past experience of trade negotiations that now is the right time for the Parliament to exert its leverage. Both the European Commission and the Vietnamese authorities need the European Parliament to see this deal through. We’re sending both sides a clear signal that our votes cannot be taken for granted without concrete progress. We need crystal clear guarantees on labour rights and human rights before the deal comes before Parliament for ratification.”