EU-Bangladesh relations date back to 1973 and have evolved over the years, reaching a new level of partnership under the Co-operation Agreement in 2001. This agreement considerably broadened the scope of co-operation, extending to trade and economic development, human rights, good governance and the environment.
For the period 2014-2020, EU-Bangladesh relations will focus on three sectors:
Following the one-sided parliamentary elections in Bangladesh in January 2014, which the EU finally decided not to observe, an EU Declaration was issued urging all parties to refrain from violence and to engage in dialogue which should lead to transparent, inclusive and credible elections.
In 2013, in response to the tragic loss of life when the Rana Plaza complex collapsed, the EU took action through a Sustainability Compact, together with Bangladesh, the ILO and the US. As stressed in the immediate aftermath of the incident in a joint statement by High Representative/Vice-President Catherine Ashton and Commissioner De Gucht, the EU's trade relations with Bangladesh and the importance of the ready-made garment (RMG) industry to the country's development gave the EU – as Bangladesh's largest export market of RMGs – a special responsibility to act. The Sustainability Compact seeks to improve labour, health and safety conditions for workers, as well as to encourage responsible behaviour by businesses in the ready-made garment industry in Bangladesh.
On the occasion of the anniversary of the Sustainability, a report published by the Commission on 8 July 2014, reviews progress made and outlines steps that still need to be taken.
During the period 2007 to 2013, EU-Bangladesh relations were guided by the Country Strategy Paper for Bangladesh covers the period 2007 to 2013. It is drafted against the backdrop of the following key challenges for Bangladesh:
a continued struggle in addressing the structural problems of poverty and to achieve the MDGs by the target date of 2015
good governance problems that affect the efficient and effective delivery of basic public services to the poor
the need to diversify the industrial base and to improve the enabling environment for business.
This strategy is grounded in the Government of Bangladesh’s own response strategy to these challenges contained in the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper .