Procedure : 2008/0136(NLE)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A6-0144/2009

Texts tabled :

A6-0144/2009

Debates :

PV 23/03/2009 - 14
CRE 23/03/2009 - 14

Votes :

PV 25/03/2009 - 3.18
CRE 25/03/2009 - 3.18
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P6_TA(2009)0184

RECOMMENDATION     ***
PDF 143kWORD 101k
16.3.2009
PE 420.085v02-00 A6-0144/2009

on the proposal for a Council decision concluding the stepping stone Economic Partnership Agreement between Côte d'Ivoire, of the one part, and the European Community and its Member States, of the other part

(5535/2009 – COM(2008)0439 – C6‑0064/2009 – 2008/0136(AVC))

Committee on International Trade

Rapporteur: Erika Mann

Rapporteur for the opinon (*):

Johan Van Hecke, Committee on Development

(*) Associated Committees – Rule 47 of the Rules of Procedure

ERRATA/ADDENDA
DRAFT EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION
 EXPLANATORY STATEMENT
 OPINION of the Committee on Development (*)
 PROCEDURE

DRAFT EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION

on the proposal for a Council decision concluding the stepping stone Economic Partnership Agreement between Côte d'Ivoire, of the one part, and the European Community and its Member States, of the other part

(5535/2009 – COM(2008)0439 – C6-0064/2008 – 2008/0136(AVC))

(Assent procedure)

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the proposal for a Council decision (COM(2008)0439),

–   having regard to the stepping stone Economic Partnership Agreement between Côte d'Ivoire, of the one part, and the European Community and its Member States, of the other part (5535/2009),

–   having regard to the request for assent submitted by the Council pursuant to Articles 133 and 181 in conjunction with the second subparagraph of Article 300(3) of the EC Treaty (C6-0064/2009),

–   having regard to Rules 75 and 83(7) of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the recommendation of the Committee on International Trade and the opinion of the Committee on Development (A6-0144/2009),

1.  Gives its assent to the conclusion of the agreement;

2.  Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Member States and Côte d'Ivoire.


EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

Côte d'Ivoire agreed a stepping-stone EPA with the EU in December 2007. The agreement was put in place to prevent disruption to its exports to the EU after the trade provisions of the Cotonou Agreement expired at the end of that month. The current stepping-stone Agreement is primarily a goods- only Agreement which nevertheless covers some other topics, like cooperation and certain commitments in the field of a) custom and trade facilitation, b) technical barrier to trade, c) sanitary and phyotosanitary measures. Article 36 reaffirms the rights and obligations taken within the WTO; in addition rights and obligation resulting from the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), the Codex Alimentarius and the World Animal Health Organization (OIE) are reaffirmed. As a result of the stepping-stone Agreement, the main exports of Côte d'Ivoire still enjoy preferential access to EU markets.

The stepping-stone EPA represent a temporary solution while negotiations for a final EPA covering the entire West African region are ongoing. The final EPA will entirely replace these interim (stepping-stone) Agreements. Negotiation for a final EPA covering the West African region (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo) are ongoing. The objective of the EU and West Africa in these negotiations is to conclude an agreement at regional level, which supports development and fosters regional integration.

As the rest of the West African region, with the exception of Cape Verde and Nigeria, is made up of Least Developed Countries, they have duty free access to the EU under the Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme while negotiations for a final EPA continue.

All imports from Côte d'Ivoire have entered the EU duty and quota free since the 1st of January 2008 (other than transition periods until 2010 for rice and 2015 for sugar) representing a significant improvement over the previous "Cotonou" trade regime.

In return, over the next 15 years, Côte d'Ivoire will liberalize 81% of imports from the EU (representing 89% of tariff lines) in areas such as industrial machines (pumps, generators, turbines, etc), certain vehicles (boats, aircrafts, cars), and certain chemicals. These are all inputs used by Ivorian which are not produced locally and will therefore reduce the costs of inputs for local businesses.

Côte d'Ivoire excluded a number of agricultural goods and non-agricultural processed goods from liberalization, mainly to ensure the protection of certain sensitive agricultural markets and industries but also to maintain fiscal revenues. The products concerned are: chicken and other meats, tomatoes, onions, sugar, tobacco, beer, worn clothes, cement, malt, gasoline and cars.

There is a detailed dispute settlement mechanism to support effective implementation of the agreement and new, improved, Rules of Origin will be annexed to the stepping-stone EPA as soon as they are agreed with the whole region in the full EPA negotiations. In the meantime Côte d'Ivoire will benefit from general EPA improved rules of origin (Council Regulation 1528/2007). Your Rapporteur likes to see that with regard to intellectual property that traditional knowledge will be covered as well to a certain degree within the framework of the final Agreement.

Article 20 (food security) allows in cooperation with Article 25 (bilateral safeguard measures) and Article 12 (customs duties of products originating in Cote d'Ivoire) and Article 13 ( Customs duties on products originating in the EC) to take appropriate measures in case either the availability or access to foodstuff to ensure food security is not guaranteed. Your Reporter wishes to see further commitment undertaken in the final Agreement with regard to the protection of biodiversity and to the FLEGT mechanism.

The Preamble of the stepping-stone Agreement reaffirms the main commitment from the Cotonou Agreement for human right, democratic principles, good governance and the rule of law; your Rapporteur wishes to see further clear commitment established in those areas in the final EPA.

Various development cooperation provisions identify priority areas of development cooperation to accompany the implementation of the stepping-stone EPA. The Preamble includes a reference to the importance to the development objectives agreed at the international level and to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. Your Rapporteur recalls the commitment taken in the EU Strategy on Aid for Trade to increase the collective EU trade related assistance to € 2 billion annually by 2010 (€ 1 billion from the Community, € 1 billion from the Member States); the Parliament wishes to see, in addition, quantified and time-bound commitments regarding funding, which ensure that Côte d'Ivoire can adjust to the changes.

Finally states, in cases where Parliament withholds assent for the conclusion of an international agreement, Council or Commission are obliged to inform the partner countries that the Community does not intend to conclude the agreement. This should result in a termination of the provisional application of the agreement: Article 25(2) of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties holds that "Unless the treaty otherwise provides or the negotiating States have otherwise agreed, the provisional application of a treaty or a part of a treaty with respect to a State shall be terminated if that State notifies the other States between which the treaty is being applied provisionally of its intention not to become a party to the treaty."

When the Council takes a decision on provisional application it takes political responsibility of provisionally applying an agreement which it knows can be rejected at a later stage by Parliament and that thereby its provisional application would have to be ended without the agreement coming into force.


OPINION of the Committee on Development (*) (10.3.2009)

for the Committee on International Trade

on the proposal for a Council decision concluding the stepping stone Economic Partnership Agreement between Republic of Côte d'Ivoire, of the one part, and the European Community and its Member States, of the other part

(5535/2009 - COM(2008)0439 – C6‑0064/2009 – 2008/0136(AVC))

Rapporteur: Johan Van Hecke

(*) Associated committee – Rule 47 of the Rules of Procedure

SHORT JUSTIFICATION

In 2000, the ACP and EU agreed to replace the existing regime of trade preferences granted by the EU to imports from the ACP, by new trading arrangements compatible with the WTO rules. The negotiations for the new so-called Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA's) were initiated in 2002. Because the WTO waiver covering the existing trade arrangements would expire in January 2008, the deadline for new arrangements was set for 31 December 2007. This is covered in Article 37 of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement between the EU and ACP-countries.

As the EPA's aim to build and strengthen the regional integration processes in the ACP and progressively remove barriers to trade between them (art.36), six ACP regions were established for the EPA negotiations. Initially, the EPA's negotiations were conducted at the regional level. At the end of 2007 however, the EU did not reach an EPA-agreement with the 16 countries in the West African regional grouping. Before expiry of the deadline, the European Commission initialled a bilateral approach with the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire in order to prevent disruption to exports to the EU after the trade provisions of the Cotonou Agreement expired.

The objective of signing an interim agreement with the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire was to maintain preferential access to EU markets for the main exports, which include cocoa, bananas and other agricultural products. It was meant as a temporary solution while negotiations to conclude a comprehensive EPA with the West African region were ongoing. An almost identical stepping stone agreement was discussed with neighbouring country Ghana.

At the end of November 2008, the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire signed the interim EPA, which makes the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire the first country in Africa to sign an economic partnership agreement with the European Union. The following months, this interim EPA will be scrutinised by the WTO.

The stepping stone agreement signed in November 2008 stipulates that all imports from Republic of Côte d'Ivoire enter the EU duty and quota free. Transition periods have been introduced until 2010 for rice and 2015 for sugar. In return, over the next 15 years, Republic of Côte d'Ivoire will liberalize 81% of imports from the EU (representing 89% of tariff lines). Liberalised EU imports are mainly industrial machines (pumps, generators, turbines), certain vehicles (boats, aircrafts), and certain chemicals. These are all inputs used by Ivorian industries which are not produced locally. Eliminating import duties on these products will reduce the costs of inputs for local businesses.

The interim EPA excludes a number of agricultural goods and non-agricultural processed goods from liberalisation, as requested by Republic of Côte d'Ivoire, to ensure the protection of certain sensitive agricultural markets and industries but also to maintain fiscal revenues. Excluded are chicken and other meats, tomatoes, onions, sugar, tobacco, beer, worn clothes, cement, malt, gasoline and cars.

Within the interim EPA, some priority areas of development cooperation have been determined in order to smooth the implementation of the interim EPA's. The main areas identified are reinforcing and upgrading of the capacity of productive sector, cooperation over fiscal adjustment, improvement of the business environment and implementation of trade rules in the agreements.

Also included is European assistance on technicalities as well as sanitary and phyto-sanitary (SPS) measures to help West African exporters meet EU import standards.

In the view of the rapporteur, this stepping stone agreement is only a temporarily solution and must be interpreted as such. He reaffirms that the final objective of this stepping stone agreement is to provide additional time to negotiate with the countries of the West African regional grouping on a full regional EPA. He hopes the negotiations on this full regional EPA will take place in mutual respect and will take into consideration concerns raised by the ACP partners.

In the meanwhile, as the rest of the West African region is largely made up of Least Developed Countries, they have duty free access to the EU under the Everything but Arms (EBA) scheme. The exceptions are Cape Verde and Nigeria. Cape Verde will continue to benefit from the EBA regime for another 3 years, while Nigeria benefits from the regular EU Generalised System of Preferences.

As Chairman Mohamed Ibn Chambas said during the 61st Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers in Burkina Faso, the consolidation of the regional integration process in West Africa is a necessity, not the least against the background of the global financial crisis. The West African region aims to finalise its common market access offer for goods early 2009.

The commitment of the EU to the regional growth and economic integration of West-Africa, lays in the EPA's. It has been translated already in the financial commitment of nearly 600 million euro to the member states of the ECOWAS States. No less than 70 % of the amount is meant for deepening regional integration, as well as improving the competitiveness of the EPA, while 20 % is for the consolidation of good governance and regional stability.

When the full EPA will be signed and is accompanied by financial aid to help build up capacity to trade, the rapporteur believes this EPA will have a substantial positive effect on the region of West Africa. Removing global barriers to trade is the acknowledged manner to foster prosperity in developing countries, as well as regional integration.

Finally, the rapporteur underlines that the Commission as well as the Council of the European Union have stated repeatedly that mechanisms for monitoring and reviewing the implementation and development impacts will be a key part of the EPA's.

******

Conclusion

The Committee on Development calls on the Committee on International Trade, as the committee responsible, to propose that Parliament gives its assent subject to ratification by Republic of Côte d'Ivoire of the stepping stone Economic Partnership Agreement between the European Community and Republic of Côte d'Ivoire.

PROCEDURE

Title

Stepping-stone Economic Partnership Agreement between the EC and Côte d’Ivoire

References

05535/2009 – C6-0064/2009 – COM(2008)04392008/0136(AVC)

Date of request for Parliament’s assent

17.2.2009

Committee responsible

INTA

Opinion by

       Date announced in plenary

DEVE

19.2.2009

 

 

 

Associated committee(s) - date announced in plenary

19.2.2009

 

 

 

Rapporteur

       Date appointed

Johan Van Hecke

15.7.2008

 

 

Date adopted

9.3.2009

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

12

8

0

Members present for the final vote

Margrete Auken, Thijs Berman, Thierry Cornillet, Nirj Deva, Beniamino Donnici, Alain Hutchinson, Romana Jordan Cizelj, Madeleine Jouye de Grandmaison, Maria Martens, José Ribeiro e Castro, Frithjof Schmidt, Jürgen Schröder, Feleknas Uca, Johan Van Hecke

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

John Bowis, Martin Kastler, Manolis Mavrommatis, Gabriele Zimmer

Substitute(s) under Rule 178(2) present for the final vote

Catherine Boursier, Ignasi Guardans Cambó


PROCEDURE

Title

Stepping-stone Economic Partnership Agreement between the EC and Côte d’Ivoire

References

05535/2009 – C6-0064/2009 – COM(2008)04392008/0136(AVC)

Date of request for Parliament’s assent

17.2.2009

Committee responsible

       Date announced in plenary

INTA

19.2.2009

Committee(s) asked for opinion(s)

       Date announced in plenary

DEVE

19.2.2009

 

 

 

Associated committee(s)

       Date announced in plenary

DEVE

19.2.2009

 

 

 

Rapporteur(s)

       Date appointed

Erika Mann

9.9.2008

 

 

Discussed in committee

5.11.2008

24.2.2009

 

 

Date adopted

16.3.2009

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

12

4

1

Members present for the final vote

Kader Arif, Ignasi Guardans Cambó, Jacky Hénin, Syed Kamall, Caroline Lucas, Erika Mann, Helmuth Markov, David Martin, Godelieve Quisthoudt-Rowohl, Tokia Saïfi, Robert Sturdy, Gianluca Susta, Corien Wortmann-Kool

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Vasco Graça Moura, Eugenijus Maldeikis

Substitute(s) under Rule 178(2) present for the final vote

Philip Bushill-Matthews, Manolis Mavrommatis

Date tabled

18.3.2009

Legal notice - Privacy policy