Pressure on EU builds to suspend talks over Free Trade Agreement with Colombia

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The European Union is coming under increasing pressure to stop negotiations with the Columbia for a Free Trade Agreement given the impunity of the Columbian government shown in the face of murders of trade unionists and indigenous activists, as well as its general disregard for human rights. Similar deals with the US, Canada and EFTA countries have all been delayed due to human rights concerns. SOLIDAR wrote to the EU Trade Commissioner earlier this year demanding that Columbia be suspended from the EU's trade preferences regime GSP+ and that the talks over an FTA be suspended until the government showed its willingness to address the situation.

The issue featured at the Global Europe and Decent Work conference which SOLIDAR organised together with our partners in the Global Network, and where Global Network Columbian member Escuela Sindical National presented significant evidence that the situation in the country, despite claims to the contrary was in fact not getting better. The issue was taken up again this week when a delegation of trade unionists and human rights defenders gave testimonies of the situation at the European Parliament. In the last twenty years 2,700 union leaders have been murdered in Colombia - 510 of whom died during the seven years the Uribe administration has been in power.

A Senator for the Partido Polo Democratico, Jorge Robledo, highlighted the two million people displaced from rural communities due to violence and poverty during the Uribe administration. We hope the new EU Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht will take into account the mounting pressure and suspend the negotiations given the commitments to decent work and labour standards the EU has made. In the event that the agreement is concluded SOLIDAR hopes that the European Parliament will use its new powers under the Lisbon treaty to reject the agreement.