EU will include democracy in PCA negotiations with S’pore

Singapore Democrats

The European Union has said that it will include issues such as the state of democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Singapore when he negotiates the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) with the Singapore Government.

The EU’s Commissioner for Trade Karel de Gucht made this statement in a letter to SDP Assistant Secretary-General John Tan through its Ambassador to Singapore.

By the end of that decade it signed 9 PCAs with various countries of former Eastern Europe. It is now expanding the PCA to include countries in other regions.

The aims of the PCA are to provide a suitable framework for political dialogue and to “support the efforts made by the countries to strengthen their democracies and develop their economies, to accompany their transition to a market economy and to encourage trade and investment.”

The general principles in the Agreement include respect for democracy, the principles of international law and human rights. The market economy is also an objective set out in all the PCAs.

The Singapore Democrats have always said that economic progress for all the people (not just the rich and powerful) cannot occur without freedom and democracy. For free trade to benefit the masses, the people must have a voice in the state’s decision-making process.

Such a view is reinforced by Commissioner de Gucht who writes that

Free trade must be a tool to generate prosperity, stability and development. When supported by the right rules and institutions, free trade delivers win-win outcomes. When part of a wider set of measures, it is a potent lever promoting European values abroad, like sustainable development and human rights.

In his letter to the SDP, the Commissioner adds that the PCA will allow the European Commission to intensify dialogue and cooperation with Singapore on human rights.



18 May 2010

Mr John Tan
Assistant Secretary-General
Singapore Democratic Party
by email to

Dear Mr Tan,

Subject: Your email to myself and Commisioner de Gucht of 6 April 2010

I wish to thank you for your email of 6 April 2010 to myself and EU Trade Commisione de Gucht concerning FTA and PCA negotiations with Singapore.

The Commisioner has asked me to reply also on his behalf.

I can assure you that the EU is committed to promoting respect for fundamental freedom, the rule of law and human rights. These are universal values.

These issues have been raised regularly at various levels in ongoing discussions with the Singaporean authorities, including demarches on the death penalty.

The European Commission will continue to follow these issues closely.

The EU aims to establish a coherent policy framework for overall political and economic relations with countries of South East Asia, including Singapore.

To this effect, the Commission is engaged in the negotiation of Partnership and Cooperation Agreements (PCA) which seek to broaden and modernise the scope of relations with countries of South East Asia.

With Singapore, PCA negotiations started in 2004/2005. I anticipate that the PCA would include significant political clauses, including on the respect for democratic principles, fundamental human rights and the princile of the rule of law.

The PCA framework will allow the European Commission to intensify dialogue and cooperation on human rights with Singapore.

To ensure a coherent and integrated relationship with our third partners, the European Commission considers that both the new FTA being negotiated and the PCA are integral parts of a common framework for bilateral relations.

Yours sincerely,

Holger Standertskjold
Ambassador and Head of Delegation
European Union

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