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The European Commission’s public consultation on the reform of the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) Regulation

  • United Kingdom
  • Competition, EU and Trade


On 11 March 2020 the European Commission (Commission) launched a public consultation on  possible reforms to the Generalised Scheme of Preference (GSP) Regulation (EU Regulation No. 978/2012 of 25 October 2012) (GSP Regulation).

As the GSP Regulation will expire on 31 December 2023 the Commission is seeking stakeholders’ input to develop a new regulatory framework.

The GSP framework

The GPS was first introduced in 1971 to help poorer countries in their effort to have a sustainable economic, social and environmental development.

In particular, the scheme consists of granting easier access to goods imported into the EU from one of the identified beneficiary countries in order to generate additional revenues for their internal economy.

The GSP Regulation sets out three distinct arrangements which are dependent upon the specific political and economic situation of the relevant country:

  • Standard GSP is related to low-income countries and consists of a partial or full removal of the duties to be paid when exporting goods to the EU;
  • GSP+ consists of special incentives for sustainable development when combined with good governance. This is granted to all developing countries which have ratified 27 international conventions related to labour rights, human rights, environmental protection and good governance. In order to qualify for GSP+ incentives, non-EU countries should be considered “vulnerable” in terms of lesser diversification of their exports to the EU and insufficient integration in the international trading system;
  • EBA (Everything But Arms) is a scheme provided to the least developed countries which grants them duty free export activities for all products except for weapons and ammunitions.

A complete list of the countries involved in the different Schemes can be found here.

The review of the GSP Regulation

As explained above, the current regulatory framework applicable to the GSP Scheme will expire on 31 December 2023.

The EU institutions have expressed wider appreciation for the Scheme and are willing to renew it in the future. In particular, on 14 March 2019, following the publication of the Commission’s mid-term evaluation of the Scheme on 8 October 2018, the European Parliament adopted a formal Resolution where it praised the results achieved by the Scheme. Nevertheless, the European Parliament formulated some recommendations in view of the forthcoming reform of the GSP, including:

  1. the need for improved transparency in the application of the GSP+ scheme. In this regard, the European Parliament has urged the Commission to enlarge the space for civil society of involved countries to present their views;
  2. that the withdrawal of trade preferences should be seen as a measure of last resort applied only when the relevant country has violated international conventions so as to hurt the population as little as possible;
  3. the need for easier rules of origin for vulnerable countries, in order to enhance their productions’ diversification, and
  4. calling on the Commission to explore the possibility of introducing additional tariff preferences for products that have demonstrably been produced in a sustainable way.

The public consultation

On 11 March, the Commission launched the public consultation  and it is open until 3 June 2020. The Commission is seeking stakeholders’ (including national and multi-national undertakings and public officials) input on possible reforms to the GSP Scheme after it expires.

Stakeholders who are willing to participate in the consultation are asked to complete a standardised survey and to submit position papers.

For more information contact

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