Through a collective mass fax and e-mail action, more than 80 organisations in 30 countries across Europe, Africa and the Pacific have today called on decision-makers to fundamentally change the course of the ongoing negotiations on Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) between the European Union and ACP countries.
“EPAs were supposed to promote ACP countries’ development and regional integration, but the EU’s approach to the negotiations has undermined these objectives” said Alhassan Cissé, Food Rights Co-ordinator from ActionAid Senegal. “Concluding EPAs on this basis would severely constrain ACP countries’ scope to maintain or introduce measures to support their economies and to defend jobs, food security, environmental sustainability and any efforts to build regional integration in Africa”.
David Hachfeld from Oxfam International: “Whilst the European Commission is publicly promising to take a more flexible approach going forward, it has instead continued to pressure regions into liberalising further and faster than is wanted”.
In their faxes and e-mails, activists and campaigners accuse the European Commission of pressuring ACP-Countries to take on new obligations that go beyond WTO compatibility requirements. They urge European decision-makers to allow flexible market access arrangements and to meet ACP requests for the re-negotiation of contentious issues included in the agreements. ACP civil society organisations call on their governments to stand firm and not to give in to EU pressures. They demand that the ACP governments suspend negotiations as long as the financial crisis rages in their countries.
Marc Maes from 11.11.11 in Belgium: “The EU must fully respect ACP positions on services, intellectual property and Singapore Issues and refrain from pressuring countries into agreement in these, or any other areas. It must also refrain from undermining the policy space of the ACP countries to implement their own development strategies and implement measures to deal with the effects of the global economic, food and climate crises”.
The 27th September 2009 marks the 7th anniversary of the launch of the EPA talks. Since 2004 civil society organisations in the EU and the ACP countries have declared this Stop EPAs Day, a day of protest against the EU approach to EPAs.
Despite pressure from the EU, only one out of six regions has concluded a full regional trade deal so far. Whilst a number of countries were pressured into interim Agreements at the end of 2007 under the threat of losing market access to the EU, more than half of the ACP countries have not agreed to any form of EPA, such is their degree of concern with these agreements. Many ACP countries are calling for the deals not to be signed and for contentious clauses to be renegotiated.