Procedure : 2008/0137(NLE)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A8-0328/2016

Texts tabled :


Debates :

PV 30/11/2016 - 13
CRE 30/11/2016 - 13

Votes :

PV 01/12/2016 - 6.11
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :


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PE 589.325v02-00 A8-0328/2016

on the draft Council decision on the conclusion of the stepping stone Economic Partnership Agreement between Ghana, of the one part, and the European Community and its Member States, of the other part

(12396/2016 – C8‑0406/2016 – 2008/0137(NLE))

Committee on International Trade

Rapporteur: Christofer Fjellner



on the draft Council decision on the conclusion of the stepping stone Economic Partnership Agreement between Ghana, of the one part, and the European Community and its Member States, of the other part

(12396/2016 – C8‑0406/2016 – 2008/0137(NLE))


The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (12396/2016),

–  having regard to the draft stepping stone Economic Partnership Agreement between Ghana, of the one part, and the European Community and its Member States, of the other part (12130/2008),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Article 207(3) and (4) and Article 209(2) and Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a), of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C8‑0406/2016),

–  having regard to its resolution of 25 March 2009 on the stepping stone Economic Partnership Agreement between Ghana, of the one part, and the European Community and its Member States, of the other part(1),

–  having regard to Rule 99 (1), first and third subparagraphs, Rule 99(2), and Rule 108(7) of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the recommendation of the Committee on International Trade (A8-0328/2016),

1.  Gives its consent to 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 of Ghana.


Texts adopted, P6_TA(2009)0177.


With the signature of the EU-West Africa Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) taking additional time, in August 2016 Ghana (and subsequently Côte d'Ivoire) has decided to proceed with ratification of its Stepping Stone Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union, concluded back in 2007. The deal ensures a contractual safety net, warranting a duty-free access to the EU market until the regional agreement comes into a fruition. The interim agreement envisages provisional application and will be superseded by a full EPA concluded at regional level at the date of its entry into force.

Ghana-EU partnership

Ghana and the EU’s are partners across different areas, including that of fostering regional economic integration and investment. In 2015, the total two-way trade between Ghana and the EU was worth 5.4 billion euros, comprising over 20% of Ghana’s external trade. Ghana is among the main agrifood exporters of the Economic Community of West African states (ECOWAS) region, shipping out cocoa, fruits, nuts and fish, while importing rice, sugar and meat.

Although gold, cocoa and crude oil still dominate Ghana’s export earnings, the EU has become a prime destination for Ghana’s “non-traditional” exports, demonstrating an increasing diversification and value-addition in the country. Ships, vehicles and refined petroleum dominate Ghana’s imports. The country tries to secure its position as a transit and maritime hub for the land-locked countries.

Around a third of Ghana's timber exports go to the EU. Ghana became the first partner to conclude negotiations and to ratify a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA), promoting legal timber trade, with the EU. Ghana currently carries out reforms that must precede the FLEGT (Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade) licensing. Furthermore, Ghana ought to continue its efforts in fighting corruption and eliminating the worst forms of child labour throughout agriculture, forestry, fishing and gold sectors.

Towards conclusion of a regional EPA

Ghana chose to revitalise a nine-year old agreement without waiting for the last undecided West African EPA partners to make up their minds on the signature of the regional development-oriented trade deal, initialled on 30 June 2014 and formally endorsed by the ECOWAS leaders on 10 July 2014. With both Ghana and the EU continuing to invest their time and efforts into putting in place the full regional EPA, Ghana-EU Interim EPA (IEPA) remains a temporary WTO-compliant solution, preceding a comprehensive EPA.

As soon as the regional EPA enters into force, it will replace the two existing interim EPAs within the region. First, the Stepping Stone Agreement with Côte d'Ivoire, which was signed back in 2008, approved by the European Parliament on 25 March 2009 and provisionally applied since 3 September 2016. Second, the IEPA with Ghana, signed on 28 July 2016 and now put to vote at the European Parliament. The respective agreements were ratified by the Ghanaian Parliament on 3 August 2016 and by the National Assembly of the Côte d'Ivoire on 12 August 2016.

The EU-Ghana IEPA

Undoubtedly, an agreement that dates back to 2007 cannot fully correspond to the realities of 2016. The entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, the accession of Croatia and the coming into effect of the Common External Tariff (CET) of Economic Community of West African states (ECOWAS) are but a few essential institutional changes. It is clear that a missing regional dimension and rules of origin as well as incomplete institutional framework make the EU-Ghana IEPA a second best solution. Furthermore, tariff lines and schedules must be brought in line with the regional ones. Nevertheless, by offering a more solid legal foundation than the unilateral “Market Access Regulation” (No 1528/2007), this agreement is a logical “waiting-room” ahead of the region-to-region solution.

Although incomplete and outdated, the agreement will serve its purpose of helping to avoid trade disruption for Ghana, while setting ground for an upcoming regional EPA relationship. Furthermore, the neighbouring Ivory Coast has also reactivated its interim EPA. The two countries chose not be held hostage by West African partners dragging their feet with signing a deal agreed back in 2014.

This EPA ensures to Ghana, a lower middle-income country, a 100% market access offer based on a long-term contractual relationship, which will ensure stability needed for new investments and job creation. With some 35% of the European exports into Ghana already fully or nearly fully liberalized, further duty reductions will gradually lift the threshold to 80%. While Ghana excludes from liberalisation certain sensitive agricultural and processed goods, the IEPA also introduces safeguards permitting reintroduction of duties in cases where a surge of imports threatens to disrupt economy, to damage food security or to undermine an “infant industry”.

Your rapporteur underlines that IEPA matches market access opportunities with provisions addressing technical barriers to trade and helping Ghanaian exporters meet Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) requirements. No less important is the co-operation aimed at strengthening capacity in fiscal reforms, improving business climate, competitiveness, trade facilitation and customs co-operation.


Your rapporteur recommends giving consent to this interim agreement, which would open doors to its provisional application. Although neither Ghana nor the EU expected that the IEPA would need to be resuscitated, a slow pace of the final steps towards a regional EPA forced to do it. The IEPA will allow Ghanaian exporters to preserve the duty-free preferences on the European market as Ghana moves up and consolidates its status as a middle-income country. Furthermore, if the regional EPA comes into place without excessive delays, any discrepancies in the IEPA tariff liberalisation schedules and tariff lines would be solved without a need for additional adaptation to the regional processes.



Stepping Stone Economic Partnership Agreement between the EC and Ghana


12396/2016 – C8-0406/2016 – COM(2008)04412008/0137(NLE)

Date of consultation / request for consent





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Christofer Fjellner





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Members present for the final vote

Laima Liucija Andrikienė, Maria Arena, Tiziana Beghin, David Borrelli, David Campbell Bannerman, Daniel Caspary, Salvatore Cicu, Santiago Fisas Ayxelà, Christofer Fjellner, Karoline Graswander-Hainz, Ska Keller, Jude Kirton-Darling, Bernd Lange, David Martin, Anne-Marie Mineur, Sorin Moisă, Alessia Maria Mosca, Franz Obermayr, Artis Pabriks, Franck Proust, Godelieve Quisthoudt-Rowohl, Inmaculada Rodríguez-Piñero Fernández, Marietje Schaake, Helmut Scholz, Joachim Schuster, Joachim Starbatty, Adam Szejnfeld, Hannu Takkula, Iuliu Winkler, Jan Zahradil

Substitutes present for the final vote

Klaus Buchner, Nicola Danti, Syed Kamall, Frédérique Ries, Fernando Ruas, Jarosław Wałęsa

Substitutes under Rule 200(2) present for the final vote

Philippe Loiseau

Date tabled


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