Motion for a resolution - B7-0025/2013Motion for a resolution
B7-0025/2013

MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on the implementation of the Interim Economic Partnership Agreement (IEPA) between the European Community and the Eastern and Southern Africa States, in the light of the current situation in Zimbabwe

14.1.2013 - (2013/2515(RSP))

to wind up the debate on the statement by the Commission
pursuant to Rule 110(2) of the Rules of Procedure

Paul Murphy, Søren Bo Søndergaard, Marisa Matias, Alda Sousa, Martina Anderson on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group

Procedure : 2013/2515(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected :  
B7-0025/2013
Texts tabled :
B7-0025/2013
Texts adopted :

B7‑0025/2012

European Parliament resolution on the implementation of the Interim Economic Partnership Agreement (IEPA) between the European Community and the Eastern and Southern Africa States, in the light of the current situation in Zimbabwe

(2013/2515(RSP))

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Council Decision of 13 July 2009 on the signing and provisional application of the Interim Agreement establishing a framework for an Economic Partnership Agreement between the Eastern and Southern Africa States, on the one part, and the European Community and its Member States, on the other part (2012/196/EC)[1],

–   having regard to the Cotonou Agreement, signed in June 2000, in particular Articles 96 and 97 thereof on respect for human rights,

–   having regard to Article 21 of the TEU and Article 208 of the TFEU, obliging the EU to respect policy coherence, including in its external action, development and trade policies,

–   having regard to its resolution of 5 February 2009 on the development impact of Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs)[2],

–   having regard to the recommendation of its Committee on International Trade, of 18 December 2012 (A7-0431/2012),

–   having regard to the opinion of its Committee on Development, of 6 December 2012 (A7‑0431/2012),

–   having regard to its resolution of 15 December 2010 on the future of the EU-Africa strategic partnership following the 3rd EU-Africa Summit[3],

–   having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other core international human rights instruments, to which Zimbabwe is a State Party,

–   having regard to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which Zimbabwe has ratified,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on the situation in Zimbabwe,

–   having regard to Rule 110(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

Economic Partnership Agreements and the Interim Economic Partnership Agreement negotiations

A. whereas Madagascar, Mauritius, the Seychelles and Zimbabwe are signatories to the Cotonou Agreement; whereas respect for human rights is intended to be an essential element of the development and cooperation agreement between the EU and the ACP countries;

B.  whereas Madagascar, Mauritius, the Seychelles and Zimbabwe have provisionally applied the Interim Agreement since May 2012; whereas this is the first Interim Economic Partnership Agreement (IEPA) with an African region since negotiations on Economic Partnership Agreements began in 2002;

C. whereas the Commission regards this Interim Economic Partnership Agreement as a stepping stone towards a full EPA, which will remain open to other countries willing to join at a later stage;

D. whereas the original Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) group that launched the negotiations on the Economic Partnership Agreements with the European Union on 7 February 2004 comprised 16 countries, which include Indian Ocean Islands (Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius and the Seychelles), Horn of Africa countries (Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Sudan), the East African Community (EAC) members (Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda) and Southern African countries (Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe);

E.  whereas the Seychelles and Mauritius are expected to liberalise and remove a total of over 95 %, and Zimbabwe 79.9 %, of the tariffs they apply to EU imports; whereas Madagascar was supposed to liberalise 37 % of its tariffs by 1 January 2013, and whereas this represents a considerable 42 % loss of fiscal revenue; whereas the Government of Madagascar has called for a five-year moratorium before implementing the Agreement;

F.  whereas, in 2010, total EU imports from the whole ESA group amounted to around EUR 2.88 billion, i.e. 0.2 % of all EU imports, including mainly processed tuna, coffee, cane sugar, textiles, tobacco, cut flowers and ferro-alloys;

G. whereas studies by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) suggest that the Commission’s vision for Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) would reduce welfare, undermine regional integration and impede African efforts to industrialise; whereas 75 % of the ESA region’s population live in LDCs;

H. whereas, according to the European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM), there is little coherence between the interim EPAs concluded and the regional integration processes in Africa;

Zimbabwe

I.   whereas President Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe for the past 33 years; whereas a coalition government was formed in 2009, following a power-sharing agreement between ZANU‑PF (Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front) and the MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) in an attempt to resolve the political deadlock resulting from the legislative and presidential elections in 2008;

J.   whereas President Mugabe has announced that a constitutional referendum and general elections will be held in 2013;

K. whereas international human rights organisations fear that harassment and intimidation against organisations and individuals working on human rights will increase as the country heads for the 2013 elections;

L.  whereas in 2012 the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions has faced continued police harassment, including a visit to their offices by plain-clothes police, an attempt by the police to ban the ZCTU’s May Day marches, the arrest of participants in a Women’s Day march and the disruption of a women’s education programme;

M. whereas the UN General Assembly and Security Council established the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) designed to prevent the trade in illicit diamonds and its close links with self-perpetuating armed conflicts; whereas the KPCS took the decision to withdraw monitors and allow the unhindered export of diamonds from the Marange diamond fields in Zimbabwe, which hold up to one fifth of the world’s diamond reserves;

N. whereas, on 5 November 2012, police officers arbitrarily arrested Fidelis Mudimu, Zachariah Gochi and Tafadzwa Geza, senior staff members at the offices of the Counselling Services Unit (CSU), a registered medical clinic in Harare, which provides medical and counselling services to victims of organised crime and torture; whereas the arrested were charged with ‘causing malicious damage to property, in contravention of Section 140 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act’;

O. whereas, throughout 2012, LGBT activists in Zimbabwe have reported a shocking rise in state-sponsored intimidation, arbitrary arrests and beatings of LGBT people;

P.   whereas, in August 2012, the building of GALZ (Gays and Lesbians Zimbabwe) was raided and 44 LGBT activists were arrested by President Mugabe’s riot police;

Q. whereas, as of November 2012, 56 people are serving death sentences in Zimbabwe;

R.  whereas, since 2002, on the basis of the relevant articles of the Cotonou Agreement, the EU has imposed targeted sanctions against Zimbabwe on the grounds of human rights abuses, political violence and rule of law violations;

S.  whereas the EU has announced that it will suspend most of the sanctions against Zimbabwe once it has held a ‘credible’ referendum;

T.  whereas an SADC (Southern African Development Community) mission to Europe and the USA in 2011 argued that the sanctions had detrimental economic effects on the people of Zimbabwe and the SADC region as a whole;

U. whereas the EU is Zimbabwe’s second largest trading partner;

Economic Partnership Agreements and the Interim Economic Partnership Agreement negotiations

1.  Strongly rejects the EU’s aggressive and continuous push for the conclusion of Economic Partnership Agreements, which are intended to replace the Cotonou Agreement, in spite of the justified concerns of many ACP countries and civil society organisations; considers the Commission’s current attitude towards ACP countries to be neo-colonial in nature, as it is dismissive of the economic and social development needs of those countries;

2.  Expresses its strongest doubts as to whether the Interim Agreement, provisionally applied since 14 May 2012 by only four (Seychelles, Madagascar, Zimbabwe and Mauritius) out of the 16 countries in the Eastern and Southern Africa region that were originally involved in the negotiations, will serve the purpose of increased regional integration;

3.  Stresses that this Interim Agreement falls short of meeting the development needs of the countries in question; is convinced that this is the case for all Economic Partnership Agreements and the main reason for the relative deadlock in the negotiations;

4.  Points out that fair trade between the EU and developing countries must be based on full respect and a guarantee of ILO labour standards and working conditions, and must ensure the application of the highest possible social and environmental standards; takes the view that this includes paying a fair price for resources and agricultural products from the developing countries;

5.  Stresses that the European Union’s commitment to achieving the MDGs must take absolute priority when determining the commercial policy approach towards developing and least developed countries; stresses that the MDGs can only be achieved if the economic and social asymmetries between the EU and the countries concerned are taken into account; believes that a flexible and tailored approach in the interest of workers, small farmers and poor people is therefore of the utmost importance; insists that food security and food sovereignty are vital in this regard;

6.  Notes with great concern the rigid approach taken by the Commission and the Council in relation to the agreed tariff liberalisation for EU imports; insists that a far more flexible approach is needed, reflecting the actual stage of development of the individual developing countries at any given time; urges the Commission, therefore, to refrain from setting fixed timetables for the expiry of the moratorium on tariff elimination and other items;

7.  Supports the ESA countries’ proposal for pro-development provisions in the EPAs, and calls, at the very minimum, for least developed countries to be exempted from tariff liberalisation commitments in the EPAs and from making their market access under the EU’s Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme contractual;

8.  Calls for a revision of the EPA process that involves all stakeholders, including trade union organisations and NGOs with expertise in this field, on an equal footing, in order to allow a genuinely development-oriented and rights-based economic policy towards ACP countries;

9.  Reiterates the EU’s obligation to apply policy coherence for development and ensure respect for human rights in all its external policies, including international trade;

Zimbabwe

10. Expresses its strong opposition to any form of sanctions imposed by the EU that has a negative impact on the social and economic situation of ordinary people in Zimbabwe;

11. Is very concerned about the ongoing repression by the ZANU-PF and MDC led Zimbabwean Government under the leadership of President Robert Mugabe, and condemns the resurgence of violence against political opponents, human rights defenders, women’s rights campaigners, journalists and NGO workers;

12. Calls for the elections and the constitutional referendum to be carried out in a free and fair manner, insists that all political parties wishing to put forward candidates in these elections should be entitled to do so without fear of harassment and intimidation; calls for the right of freedom of expression and assembly to be respected;

13. Condemns the systematic repression of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and its members; supports the right of trade unions to organise and act freely without state repression or interference; urges the Zimbabwean Government to respect and implement all the relevant ILO conventions, in particular Conventions 87 and 98, which Zimbabwe has already ratified;

14. Notes the decision by the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) in late 2012 to withdraw monitors and allow unhindered exports of diamonds from the Marange diamond fields in Zimbabwe; calls, however, for an urgent review and evaluation of the KPCS scheme which allows full involvement of trade unions, environmental organisations, NGOs and other organisations that represent victims of human rights abuses in the Marange diamond fields, in order to effectively assess this decision;

15. Condemns all acts of violence, and state violence in particular, against LGBT activists as well as other LGBT people in Zimbabwe, and urgently supports the call for the inclusion of respect for equality and the human rights of all people, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation, in Zimbabwe’s new constitution;

16. Calls on the Government of Zimbabwe to drop all charges against the senior staff members and health workers at the Harare Counselling Services Unit (CSU);

17. Reiterates its opposition to the death penalty and calls for the immediate implementation of a moratorium on the death penalty, which would halt all executions as a first step towards abolishing capital punishment altogether;

18. Urges the Parliament and Government of Zimbabwe to respect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights;

19. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the President of the European Council, the President of the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the governments of the Member States, the Governments of Madagascar, Mauritius, the Seychelles and Zimbabwe and the ACP Secretariat.