Members' Research Service By / January 11, 2022

New EU scheme of generalised preferences [EU Legislation in Progress]

The EU’s current Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) was established through legislation adopted in 2012 (Regulation (EU) No 978/2012), but its history goes back to the 1970s.

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Written by Ionel Zamfir (2nd edition).

On 21 September 2021, the Commission published its proposal for a new EU scheme of generalised preferences (GSP). Two of the current scheme’s three components are due to expire at the end of 2023, which would deprive developing countries of a vital opportunity to trade under preferential terms with the EU. Therefore, renewing the scheme appears to be both a necessity and an opportunity to strengthen its conditionality in the light of lessons learned and the increased urgency for dealing with the climate.

The Commission considers that the scheme has delivered on its objectives, and proposes some ‘fine-tuning’. To ensure that its benefits remain broadly shared, it proposes changes to the economic vulnerability criteria for the special incentive strand of the scheme GSP+ and to the product graduation threshold for Standard GSP. Taking on board proposals from civil society, but also from the Parliament, the Commission proposes to extend negative conditionality to environmental and good governance conventions, and to improve monitoring and stakeholders’ involvement overall.

Civil society organisations and other stakeholders have put forward some more ambitious proposals, such as making the monitoring fully transparent and rewarding countries that fulfil jointly agreed benchmarks related to the conventions under the GSP with additional preferences.


Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on applying a generalised scheme of tariff preferences and repealing Regulation (EU) No 978/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council
Committee responsible:International Trade (INTA)COM(2021) 579
Rapporteur:Heidi Hautala (Greens/EFA, Finland)2021/0297(COD)
Shadow rapporteurs:Gabriel Mato (EPP, Spain)
Raphaël Glucksmann (S&D, France)
Jordi Cañas (Renew, Spain)
Marco Campomenosi (ID, Italy)
Emmanouil Fragkos (ECR, Greece)
Helmut Scholz (The Left, Germany)
Ordinary legislative procedure (COD)
(Parliament and Council on equal footing – formerly ‘co-decision’)
Next steps expected: Trilogue negotiations
EU Legislation in progress timeline

Current beneficiaries of the EU GSP
Current beneficiaries of the EU GSP

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