Measures to safeguard the interests of vulnerable EU banana producers in forthcoming EU trade deals with Central America and Peru and Columbia were approved by the International Trade Committee on Tuesday.
The measures - endorsed by a large majority in committee following an informal agreement with Council - establish a general safety-net for all EU producers to help them adapt to liberalisation of trade foreseen by the largely trade-focused Association Agreement with Central America and the trade agreement with Peru and Colombia.
These safeguards, which still have to be endorsed by Parliament as a whole, would allow the EU to increase customs duties, or refuse to reduce them, in the event of a surge in EU imports large enough to harm the interests of EU producers.
As the upcoming deals will also cut import tariffs for bananas, which are an important export for some of the EU's "outermost regions", such as the Canary Islands, Guadeloupe and Martinique, special "stabilisation mechanisms for bananas" are foreseen which would allow the European Commission to suspend the preferential customs duty for up to three months if banana imports exceed certain trigger volumes.
MEPs also added specific provisions for monitoring the implementation of both deals, so as to keep an eye on progress in addressing human, social, labour and environmental rights challenges in these countries and to provide a channel for civil society to express concerns. They stress the need to ensure that the partners' trade and sustainable development commitments are not neglected in practice.
The International Trade committee will vote on its recommendation regarding Parliament's consent to the Trade Agreement with Peru and Colombia in its 26-27 November meeting. The Association Agreement with Central America has already received a green light from Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee and is provisionally scheduled for a plenary vote in December.
Procedure: Co-decision, 1st reading
In the chair: Robert Sturdy (ECR, UK)