Brexit fallout: Dhaka for broader EU engagement

Sheikh Shahariar Zaman
Published : 06:00, Oct 09, 2019 | Updated : 09:26, Oct 09, 2019

An anti-Brexit protestor rides a bicycle with Union Jack flag and European Union flag attached to it, outside the Houses of the Parliament in London, Britain, September 3, 2019. REUTERSDhaka is trying to engage with lawmakers in different European countries in order to get political support in the European Union as Britain is all but set to leave the bloc, with or without a deal.
“Whenever any issue related to Bangladesh pops up in the EU parliament, we tend to engage with British lawmakers as both of us understand each other,” a senior foreign ministry official told Bangla Tribune.
However, as the country is leaving the bloc, there will be a vacuum and we would like to fill it up with broader engagement with all EU member countries, he said.
Political dynamics of EU
Dhaka is actively engaged with all three principal actors in the EU---European Parliament, European Union Council and European Commission.
“Each actor has different political dynamics and our engagement with each of them is different to get the maximum benefit,” said another official.
Out of the 28 members, Germany, France and Britain are the most influential countries and we maintain close relations with them,but historically we have very good understanding with the UK, he said.
The official said, “The European Union Council is comprised of 28 national governments and Bangladesh missions in those respective countries also play due role when it comes to issues related to the country.”
The Bangladesh mission in Brussels, where the EU headquarters is located, is actively engaged with European Parliament and European Commission, he said.
A person walks past an EU and a British flag in London, Britain, April 2, 2019. REUTERSEuropean Parliament
Seats in the European Parliament are allocated on the basis of population of each member state and Germany has highest number of lawmakers closely followed by France and Britain.
“In European politics, the trio plays a crucial role and often sets the tone of formulating the common foreign and security policy,” said another official.
Out of 751 seats, Germany sends 96 lawmakers, France 74 and Britain 73 while small country Estonia sends only six MPs to the parliament, he said.
“We tend to engage with the British lawmakers to get support for issues which are important for us or block certain moves which may be harmful for us,” he added.
Dhaka understands that there would be a vacuum after Brexit and is trying to develop a plan which can be effective to protect its interest in the EU, the official said.
“We are advising our Diaspora community in all member countries to engage in politics or build rapports with the local lawmakers,” he said.
Diasporas of India and Pakistan have been engaged in politics for a long time and many of the lawmakers or even ministers are of Indian or Pakistani origin and we want to focus there, he added.
“It will not happen overnight, but if they start now, after 10 or 15 years we may see Bangladesh origin lawmakers in the parliaments,” the official said.