Migrants cannot be traded for commercial advantages

Herika Martinez / AFP

16 March 2023. The European Council, the European Parliament and the European Commission are currently negotiating the revision of the EU’s Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) regulation. This is a scheme that aims to provide favorable trade treatment for developing and least developed countries for the period 2024-2034.

The Commission proposed to include migration-related conditions in the future GSP. In other words, it proposed to link the granting of a trade preference to a specific country to the latter’s ability to facilitate the return and readmission of migrants.

CSW and FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights) asked Dr. Geraldo Vidigal, from the University of Amsterdam’ Law School, for a legal opinion on the legitimacy of this proposal in light of the rules of international trade law.

Vidigal concluded that this proposal ’does not, let alone respond positively, to the development, financial and trade needs of developing countries. It is designed to satisfy an objective considered desirable by certain political coalitions within the EU and its member states’ and is therefore simply incompatible with international trade law and thus illegal.

"European institutions cannot use trade benefits to force other countries to take back migrants, this is not only deeply disturbing, it is illegal under international trade law," concludes Gaelle Dusepulchre, deputy director of FIDH’s globalisation desk,

See also the joint letter signed by FIDH, CSW and other CSOs asking the EU to remove any reference to readmission as a condition in the EU’s draft GSP reform.

See bellow the full legal opinion :

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