The European Union (EU) and Vietnam had signed the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in December of 2015. However, the European Parliament and the legislatures of all EU members have still not approved the agreement for it to take effect.
The EU-Vietnam Partnership is based on the respect of human rights and democratic principles, yet the FTA is being fast-tracked with hardly any attention on human rights.
The Government in Vietnam faces pressure from European lawmakers to improve its human rights record, especially with regard to the conditions existing in garment factories. The dismal working conditions and low pay have been the cause of labour agony in many industries – prominent being footwear and textile industry.
There are no independent trade unions in Vietnam and the right to strike is severely restricted, even prohibited in many sectors. The majority of workers in garment sector are women and their condition too leaves a lot to be desired. The European Parliament recently sent its Subcommittee on Human Rights on a fact-finding trip to Vietnam. The committee called on Vietnamese officials to allow more debate about political rights and freedom of expression and religion.
Also Read – EU-Vietnam FTA to benefit both parties
Nearly a year ago, the French group Worldwide Movement for Human Rights accused the EU of failing to study the impact the trade agreement would have on human rights. Fredrick Burke of Baker & McKenzie says Vietnam’s FTA with the EU is not as strong on human rights as the TPP.