Sanctions under the EU's Generalised System of Preferences (GSP): Coherence by Accident?

Clara PORTELA, Singapore Management University
Jan ORBIE, Ghent University


This article investigates the relationship between the European Union's withdrawal of trade benefits for developing countries under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) and its sanctions under the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). Our expectation is that GSP withdrawals and CFSP sanctions will not cohere. However, our research reveals that GSP suspension has been coherent with CFSP sanctions when the latter exist prior to the decision-making process on GSP sanctions and when the International Labour Organisation has set up a Commission of Inquiry condemning the country, as with Myanmar/Burma and Belarus. The presence of separate institutional frameworks explains the GSP suspension towards Sri Lanka in the absence of CFSP sanctions.