Tag Archives: European Commission

On 20 June, a delegation from the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Trade and Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion and the European External Action Service (EEAS) started the “Generalised Scheme of Preferences+” (GSP+) monitoring mission in Armenia.
The EU’s GSP allows developing countries to pay fewer or no duties on exports to the EU. This gives them vital access to EU markets and contributes to economic growth. There are three main variants of GSP: the standard/general GSP arrangement, the GSP+ arrangement and “Everything but Arms” (EBA) arrangement.
GSP+ is the EU’s special incentive arrangement for sustainable development and good governance. It grants generous trade preferences in return for engagement on core conventions on human rights, labour rights, the environment, and good governance. Armenia benefited from the general arrangement of GSP in 2006-2008. In December 2008, Armenia qualified for the special incentive arrangement for sustainable development and good governance (GSP+) under the EU GSP Regulation for 2009-2011, which was then extended until December 2013. Despite the fact that in 2013 Armenia decided not to sign the agreement on a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) as part of an Association Agreement with the EU, Armenia still applied for and received GSP+ in 2014.

ARS_9655GSP+ grants zero customs duties on over 6200 EU tariff lines for Armenian businesses. In 2016, 94% of EU imports from Armenia entered the EU with zero duty. In 2016, the EU imported €335 million in goods from Armenia, of which €128 million (ca. 40%) used GSP+ preferences. Armenia thus saved €8.7 million in duties compared to standard MFN duty rates. The ongoing GSP+ monitoring mission is a standard procedure – the EU visits all GSP+ beneficiaries. The purpose of the visit is to assess the country’s compliance with the core conventions. The first GSP+ monitoring biennial report about Armenia for 2014-2015 was published in January 2016.
On 20-23 June, the monitoring mission met with government authorities, civil society organisations, employers’ organisations and trade unions, as well as international organisations, to assess developments in implementing the relevant 27 international conventions. A meeting was also held with the Armenian business community and the Chamber of Commerce to inform them about the work and benefits of GSP+ and to listen to any concerns or difficulties in its practical implementation. In January 2018 the EU will issue its second biennial GSP+ report for 2016-2017.

ARS_9596On 23 June, the delegation, led by EEAS Adviser on Trade Issues and Business Coordinator Guus Houttuin, met with journalists to give a short review on the monitoring mission: ‘We learned about some issues of concern; however, it is worth remembering that none of the 9 countries in GSP+ is perfect. There are three main concerns: the absence of an effective labour inspection system; the need to adopt a comprehensive law on the prevention of domestic violence; finally, an independent and efficient judicial system. As a concrete follow up to our mission, we will submit to the Armenian government a brief on areas requiring action by the autumn, so that we are able to incorporate any new actions in our report. The first report was issued on January 2016. We have told the government counterparts that we are now in the stage when we need to invest in a lasting relationship. This investment, from the Armenian side, will mean delivering on the 27 core conventions. We are already doing our part in continuing trade privileges’.

Mayors for Economic Growth (M4EG) is a new initiative within the Eastern Partnership Flagship Initiative on Sustainable Municipal Development, launched during a high level conference, co-organised by CORLEAP and the European Commission, in Yerevan last October.
The M4EG initiative is partly inspired by the EU Covenant of Mayors, an urban climate and energy initiative which brings together local, regional and national authorities voluntarily to implement EU climate and energy objectives. Thanks to its voluntary nature, participatory approach and clear objectives, the Covenant of Mayors has proved very successful in the EaP region.
On 28 April a call for proposals for the new EU-funded “Mayors for Economic Growth Pioneers Projects” (M4EG) was launched. This multi-country call for proposals contributes to the achievement of the objectives of the new EU-funded Mayors for Economic Growth initiative supporting cities in the Eastern Partnership region Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
The initiative aims at strengthening local authorities’ capacity to implement smart local economic development through enhanced local governance, better planning and more efficient municipal management. Through the initiative, the joining cities should develop and implement Local Economic Development Plans, receiving technical assistance and scientific support from the EU. The champions will receive grant support to implement pilot projects included in cities’ Local Economic Development Plans. The budget for Lot 1 announced for Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, or Moldova is to the amount of €5 million.

ARS_4191Hoa-Binh Adjemian, the Head of Cooperation Section of the EU Delegation to Armenia, announced the launch of the call for proposals: ‘On the behalf of the EU Ambassador to Armenia, Piotr Świtalski, I would like to reconfirm EU support to local authorities as actors for change, as enablers of ensuring balance. The EU has been working closely with local authorities in the regions, and will continue to do so. This project complements what the EU is already doing in Armenia, which is supporting different spheres in the regions’.

ARS_4177Vache Terteryan, the Armenian First Deputy Minister of Territorial Administration and Development, highlighted the importance of the initiative during the current economic crisis: ‘M4EG will enable community representatives to think of new ways of cooperation to bring about economic improvement. I am sure that, together with other EU initiatives and projects, M4EG will be a good opportunity for local communities and provide additional resources to solve problems’.