By Joyce van Genderen-Naar
The ACP and EU views expressed April 29, 2010 at the International EPA Seminar in Brussels, “EPAs in (times of) crisis” (state of play of the EPA negotiations and implementation and the EPAs in the light of the global crises), made very clear that :
1. 8 years of EPA negotiations (2002-2010) were a disaster.
2. there is a ‘fatigue’ in ACP countries and in EU Members States: the majority is tired of or not interested in EPAs.
3. main reason of the failure is that the European Commission has never listened and never taken serious the concerns and needs of ACP countries and has forced the ACP countries and their governments to conclude the EPAs.
4. ACP representatives spoke about unethical and unrespectful negotiations practices of EU representatives in their countries, putting pressure on ACP exporters to influence their governments to conclude the EPAs.
5. the impact of the global crises (food, financial, economic, climat change) on ACP countries makes it necessary and urgent to rethink the EPAs, and in case of the Caribbean to review and not to ratify the CF-EC-EPA.
7. Calls were made to suspend or block the EPA negotiations.
8. The way forward and other issues were discussed at the International EPA Seminar in Brussels.
9. The presentations will be made available at www.epawatch.eu
What I noticed is that ACP state actors (representatives of Governments and embassies) and non state actors (NGOs, civil society) are together opposing the inflexibility, deadlines etc. of these negotiations. Before only NGOs were against EPAs, now ACP state and non state are in this together, trying to safeguard their economies and future.
The regional EPA negotiations were dividing ACP: Africa (4 regions), Caribbean and Pacific. But what brings them together is the need to defend their common interests: poverty eradication, sustainable development and globalisation, which are not guaranteed by the EPA and the negotiations with the EC. Due to the inflexible EPA negotiations the EC is alienating the ACP countries. ACP countries need their experts not only for EPA negotiations with the EC but also for economic cooperation with Asia and America. That was also an important message of the ACP representatives at the International EPA Seminar in Brussels.
Civil organisations contributing to the organisation of the seminar were: ActionAid, African Trade Network, APRODEV, Africa Groups Sweden, Caribbean Policy Development Centre, ENDA, Forum Syd, ICCO, Oxfam International, Pacific Network on Globalisation, Partnership for Change, SOS Faim, Third World Network Africa, Transnational Institute, Traidcraft, and 11.11.11.(Marc Maes).
The Key note address was made by Martin Khor, Director South Centre: EPAs in times of crises
Civil society perspectives on the state of the play by:
* Maureen Penjueli (Pacific Network on Globalisation): Pacific perspectives
* Cheikh Tidiane Dieye (ENDA) : African perspectives
* Shantal Munro (Caribbean Policy Development Centre) : Caribbean perspectives
The global Food crisis and EPAs :
* Jean-Jacques Grodent (SOS Faim) : The global food crisis and the right to food.
* NN, Réseau des organisations paysannes et de producteurs de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (ROPPA): Food crisis, EPAs and
African small holders
* Karin Ulmer (APRODEV) : Can better Safeguards help?
* Emily Jones (Oxford University): Updating the EPAs in light of the crises
* Sanya Reid-Smith (Third World Network): Services, investments and trade-related issues
* Viviana Munoz (South Centre): Intellectual property rights
Why is there still only one “full” EPA (and should there be more)?
* Debate among representatives of Civil Society, the EU Commission and the ACP