Answer given by Mr De Gucht on behalf of the Commission
The Commission presented to the Council in October 2011 a proposal for negotiating directives of Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas (DCFTA) with Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia. Given that Free Trade Areas with these partners are in place through the Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreements, the main aim of the DCFTA is to bring the partners progressively closer to the EU single market. These agreements would include:
provisions on the liberalisation of trade in services and investment which should give a new impetus to the ongoing bilateral negotiations and further market access for agricultural, processed agricultural and fisheries products building on existing agreements and taking into account the particular circumstances of each partner country;
provisions in the area of sanitary and phytosanitary measures aiming at approximation of regulatory standards of these partners with those of the EU and a trade and sustainable development chapter based on commitments concerning internationally recognised rules and standards in social and environmental areas that must underpin deeper economic and trade relations between the EU and these partners;
provisions on investment protection in line with the recently adopted negotiating directives on investment protection with Canada, India and Singapore, and on public procurement aiming at approximation of regulatory standards of these partners with those of the EU and progressive market access on the basis of national treatment and non-discrimination.
The Commission intends to launch sustainability impact assessments in parallel to each negotiation to inform negotiators of the possible social, environmental and economic impacts.