Motion for a resolution - B6-0511/2007Motion for a resolution



to wind up the debate on the statement by the Commission
pursuant to Rule 103(2) of the Rules of Procedure
by Cristiana Muscardini, Ryszard Czarnecki, Adam Bielan and Janusz Wojciechowski
on behalf of the UEN Group
on Economic Partnership Agreements

Procedure : 2007/2667(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected :  
Texts tabled :
Texts adopted :


European Parliament resolution on Economic Partnership Agreements

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Partnership Agreement between the members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States of the one part, and the European Community and its Member States of the other part, signed in Cotonou on 23 June 2000 (the Cotonou Agreement),

–  having regard to the Commission Communication on ‘Economic Partnership Agreements’ of 23 October 2007 (COM(2007)0635),

–  having regard to the conclusions of the General Affairs and External Relations Council of 19 November 2007 with regard to the Economic Partnership Agreements,

–  having regard to the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly resolution adopted on 20 November 2007 in Kigali on the review of negotiations on Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs),

–  having regard to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), in particular Article XXIV thereof,

–  having regard to the policy statement of 9 November 2007 by the Ministers of the ACP countries on EPAs,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on this matter, and in particular its resolution of 23 May 2007 on Economic Partnership Agreements,

–  having regard to Rule 103(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas the Cotonou Agreement sets out, in its Article 36.1, the parties’ agreement to conclude new WTO-compatible trading arrangements, progressively removing barriers to trade between them and enhancing cooperation in all areas relevant to trade and development,

B.  whereas the waiver exempting this agreement from WTO law will expire at the end of 2007, creating concern as to the consequences for EU-ACP trade relations,

C.  whereas several ACP countries are very reluctant to conclude EPAs and declare that they have been put under pressure by the European Commission to sign an EPA, while others insist on the importance to their economy of EU market access,

D.  whereas negotiations on full Economic Partnership Agreements, to replace the Cotonou Agreement, are not progressing at the same pace in the six regions and are in any event not likely to be completed before the end of 2007,

E.  whereas in October 2007 the European Commission made an offer to the ACP countries for an Interim Agreement, as a first phase of EPAs covering only trade in goods, to be implemented as from 31 December 2007,

1.  Reiterates its belief that EPAs must be development instruments, so as to promote sustainable development, regional integration and reduction of poverty in the ACP States and foster the gradual integration of the ACP States into the world economy;

2.  Expresses, however, its deep concern at the slow pace of the negotiations, as a result of which, most probably, no full agreements will be signed with any of the ACP regional groups by 31 December 2007;

3.  Stresses the importance of eliminating the risk of a vacuum in the EU-ACP relationship, in order to avoid legal uncertainty surrounding the EU-ACP relationship, which would have disastrous consequences for non-LDC ACP countries in particular, threatening the welfare and livelihood of millions of people in ACP States;

4.  Takes note of the proposal made by the Commission on 23 October 2007 and the decision of the General Affairs and External Affairs Council of 17 November 2007 to conclude, in the first phase of negotiations, Interim Agreements limited to trade in goods;

5.  Underlines the importance of ongoing ACP regional integration processes; acknowledges this ‘two-step’ approach as proposed by the European Commission as a temporary and pragmatic approach designed to avoid interrupting the flow of goods with tariff advantages to the EU beyond 1 January 2008;

6.  Notes with interest the recent conclusion of the interim Framework Agreements between the European Community, on the one hand, and the East African Community Partner States and the Southern African Development Community on the other, guaranteeing duty-free and quota-free access of goods from the latter to the EU market;

7.  Emphasises that establishing a genuine regional market represents an essential basis for successfully implementing EPAs and that regional integration is essential for the social and economic development of the ACP countries; stresses that where there are Interim Agreements with sub-regional groups, the process of regional integration for EPA regions must remain a principal condition;

8.  Calls on both parties to shoulder their responsibility to continue negotiations on the other issues as soon as possible; stresses that a long-term agreement can only be reached if all parties concerned feel committed to it;

9.  Recognises that it is important for the ACP countries to commit themselves to the economic partnership process and to promote the reforms needed to bring social and economic structures into line with the agreements; urges ACP governments to implement good governance rules; urges the Commission to adhere to the principles of full asymmetry and flexibility;

10.  Stresses that full asymmetry in the agreements, in accordance with WTO requirements, should include maximum flexibility with regard to tariff cuts, coverage of sensitive products and an adequate transition time before the agreement has to be fully implemented;

11.  Urges the Commission to take into account the ongoing difficult situation of the sugar sector in the European Union Member States when negotiating the quantities of sugar originating from the ACP countries;

12.  Stresses that the Commission’s offer on rules of origin marks a relaxation of current provisions; believes that the necessary flexibility should be built into the agreement, taking into account the differences in level of industrial development between the EU and the ACP countries, among the EU States and among the ACP States; calls on the Commission, therefore, to reconsider its offer on rules of origin in order to provide the necessary protection against the re-export of products of sensitive sectors such as clothing and textiles;

13.  Notes the importance of creating appropriate conditions to stimulate investment, trade in services and rules on competition in EPAs, this being conducive to economic growth; calls on the Commission, however, to take into account the different capacities of the ACP countries and the requests of certain ACP regional groups regarding these items;

14.  Recalls the undertakings by the Council and the Commission not to negotiate pharmaceutical-related TRIPS-plus provisions affecting public health and access to medicines, such as data exclusivity, patent extensions and limitation of grounds of compulsory licences;

15.  Calls on the Commission to carry out a systematic analysis, during the negotiations and following their conclusion, of the social impact of EPAs on the groups most at risk;

16.  Stresses that trade rules must be accompanied by an increase in support for trade-related assistance; calls for concrete commitments to be made prior to the conclusion of EPA negotiations, addressing both trade-related assistance and the adjustment costs associated with EPAs, including technical assistance to enable ACP States to meet EU import regulations and standards and thus fully benefit from the improved market access;

17.  Stresses that Interim Agreements on ‘goods only’ must include specific provisions for EPA-related aid for trade support;

18.  Asks the Commission and the Council to consult the European Parliament on the conclusion of EPA Interim Agreements pursuant to Article 300(3), second paragraph, of the Treaty establishing the European Community;

19.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the ACP‑EU Council and the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly.