The European Parliament (EP) approved a resolution on Wednesday stating Colombia must improve its human and labor rights situation before it would pass the pending free trade agreement (FTA) between the European Union (EU), Peru and Colombia, local media reported.
The FTA between the EU and two Andean countries aims to eliminate various tariffs, widen market access and reduce technical obstacles to trade– including providing full liberalization of trade in industrial and fishery products, which Colombia and Peru hope to increase by at least 1%.
President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso called the FTA “essential to promote the growth of our commercial relations and investments.”
Before finalizing the FTA, the EP asked the governments of Colombia and Peru for “a clear and binding roadmap to protect labor and human rights and the environment.” The requirements come in response to criticism from various human rights activists that say the Andean nations are not doing enough to protect their workers and that political leverage will be lost by passing the trade deal.
The resolution also states that “freedom of assocation and collective bargaining rights must be guaranteed, as well as strict labor inspections which can lead to penalties in case of maltreatment of workers.”
According to a recent report by International Trade Union Confederation Colombia is the most dangerous country in the world for unionist workers. The document shows that in 2011 at least 29 union workers were killed in Colombia on account of their union work.
The FTA, which was approved by European Union member states in May, was scheduled for ratification in September 2012, however on Tuesday German Chancillor Angela Merkel called for the treaty to be entered into force as soon as possible in hopes of improving the European economy.