The European Union (EU) expressed its concern over the Digital Security Act during its diplomatic consultation meeting with Bangladesh, said concerned officials on Wednesday.
During the meeting EU also raised issues related to human rights, labour rights, Rohingya situation, trade cooperation, migration and post-Covid recovery.
The European Union and Bangladesh met for their fourth Diplomatic Consultations on Tuesday in Brussels.
The joint press statement issued on Wednesday said democracy and human rights are shared values between Bangladesh and the EU.
“The EU raised the issue of the Digital Security Act (DSA), expressing concerns that some of its provisions risk going beyond the stated purpose of fighting digital crime and also inquired about certain ongoing trials in this context.”
In the meeting, the EU encouraged Bangladesh to implement the recommendations made during the last Universal Periodic Review.
The Bangladesh side provided updates and shared its perspectives in this regard.
Both sides welcomed that EU-Bangladesh relations that have deepened over more than four decades and thus aimed at broadening the EU-Bangladesh engagement beyond the current priority areas of trade, migration, human rights, Rohingya humanitarian crisis and development cooperation, the statement said.
The EU delegation was led by the European External Action Service Managing Director for Asia and the Pacific Gunnar Wiegand, and the Bangladesh delegation was led by Foreign Secretary (Senior Secretary) Ambassador Masud Bin Momen.
The EU and Bangladesh agreed to step up cooperation on climate action, digitalisation, connectivity and security, taking into account the EU Strategy for cooperation in the Indo Pacific.
In this regard, both sides discussed initiating a regular political dialogue for providing strategic guidance and intensifying foreign and security policy cooperation.
Covid response and post-Covid recovery were also discussed.
Team Europe mobilised €334 million for Covid-19 response and recovery in Bangladesh aiming notably at safeguarding the livelihoods of workers in export-oriented industries.
Bangladesh appreciated the EU’s support for the direct Covid-response in the form of medical and personal protective equipment, and the supply of vaccines through the global COVAX facility.
The EU commended Bangladesh’s leadership of the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) and of the V20 Climate Vulnerables Finance Summit.
The EU invited Bangladesh to consider a Green Partnership with it, which both sides will discuss in detail at the climate dialogue in Dhaka in early 2022.
Both sides agreed on the need to strengthen democratic governance in post-Covid recovery and condemned communal or sectarian violence and discrimination in any form or manifestation, anywhere, the statement added.
“The EU commended Bangladesh for its continuing success as the by far largest beneficiary of the EU’s Everything But Arms (EBA) unilateral preferential trade scheme.”
“In this context, the EU welcomed the finalisation and publication by Bangladesh of its National Action Plan on the Labour Sector and stressed the need for its comprehensive implementation as per the stipulated timelines.”
Bangladesh reiterated the need for ensuring fair prices of readymade garments, especially in view of the investments being made in safer and greener factories, the statement said.
“The EU reiterated its appreciation for the generous role and action of the people and Government of Bangladesh for continuing to temporarily host a million forcibly displaced Rohingyas from Myanmar for more than four years.”
“Both sides stressed the need for voluntary, safe, dignified and sustainable return of Rohingyas to Myanmar and welcomed the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Bangladesh and the UNHCR relating to Bhasan Char.”
“The EU raised the importance of providing perspectives to the largely young population of the forcibly displaced Rohingyas, especially in terms of education, improved livelihoods and of ensuring safety and security.”
“In the context of the ongoing implementation of the mechanism under Article 25a of the Visa Code, the EU welcomed the progress that Bangladesh has demonstrated in implementing the Standard Operating Procedures for the Identification and Return of Persons without an Authorization to Stay.”
The EU urged Bangladesh to continue its commitment and demonstrate further concrete results, including clearing the backlog of cases and meeting the commitments set out in the Standard Operating Procedures. Bangladesh proposed that the EU look at opportunities to widen legal pathways for migration by creating employment for the skilled and semi-skilled workforce from Bangladesh.
The EU presented its new Strategy for cooperation in the Indo-Pacific. Both sides discussed the political and security situation in the region, including in Myanmar and Afghanistan, maritime security, as well as counter-terrorism and cooperation within the UN fora, said the statement.