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Proċedura : 2005/2246(INI)
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Ċiklu relatat mad-dokument : A6-0084/2007

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Dibattiti :

PV 22/05/2007 - 8
CRE 22/05/2007 - 8

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PV 23/05/2007 - 5.9
CRE 23/05/2007 - 5.9
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It-Tlieta, 22 ta' Mejju 2007 - Strasburgu Edizzjoni riveduta

8. Ftehim dwar sħubija ekonomika (dibattitu)

  El Presidente. El siguiente punto es el informe de Robert Sturdy, en nombre de la Comisión de Comercio Internacional, sobre los acuerdos de asociación económica (2005/2246(INI)) (A6-0084/2007).


  Robert Sturdy (PPE-DE), rapporteur. – Mr President, this is a particularly important report. The Commission, including the Commissioner himself, and I have worked very closely on it. This report highlights the complexity of establishing a forward programme for trade relations between the EU and the ACP, two very different and largely unequal groups which share a common goal to strengthen trade as a means of real development. Idealistic as this may sound, I have received a great deal of support from both the Commission and the representatives of the ACP regions and, despite the many concerns expressed by NGOs and political groups, they and I, and I am sure the Commission, remain optimistic.

EPAs have moved very slowly because of the conflicting ideas on a number of issues including regional integration, identification of sensitive products and preparing concrete and detailed proposals for EPA-related support. The ACP has been asked to do a great deal and too often the institutional infrastructure and lack of capacity has raised questions as to whether these proposals will contribute to their development in a manner that they want.

The January 2008 deadline is obviously what makes this year so crucial for EPAs. Time is running out. Negotiators must press on to reach a mutually beneficial settlement on EPAs that will help ACP countries develop and support international trade relations. In the event that some regions need more time, I believe it is incumbent on both parties to seek to ensure that ACP exports to the EU should not be harmed. This should be the objective, not discussing the feasibility of another WTO waiver, although I appreciate that the Commission is continuing to focus on reaching the deadlines. However, I am anxious to know what provisions have been outlined for these regions which find themselves without an agreement.

My report makes a number of recommendations: simplified, liberalised and more flexible rules of origin, full duty-free, quota-free market access for the ACP, workable safeguards, dispute settlement and monitoring mechanisms with transparent provisions and a real power to act in the event of changes caused by EPAs having a harmful effect on sectors of ACP economies. These are the positive aspects and need to be correctly framed in negotiations. We need to know how these mechanisms will work and to build trust and ensure that Europe will be as keen to help implement these mechanisms as the ACP countries.

We have recognised that, if EPAs are to be successfully concluded, there must be more ACP engagement than has been demonstrated throughout these negotiations. Only a true partnership will ensure these agreements are beneficial to all parties. The official EPA review due to be completed last December failed to provide a full and comprehensive report of the status of negotiations. This is far from encouraging and I am curious as to what precedence this sets in the actual signing of the agreements.

It is clear that additional resources will be needed to cope with the effects of change ushered in by EPAs. The scaling-up of trade facilitation, technical assistance and support to help ACP producers meet EU standards must be sufficiently extensive to offset losses from tariff revenues and help ACP countries take advantage of market access. In the first instance this requires greater efforts to ensure that funds already promised are spent in a timely and effective manner. The EU must be accountable for all of its development assistance and, together with the ACP, must set clear goals that boost ACP competitiveness and growth.

EPAs have an essential role to play as instruments for development and, appropriately designed, they represent an opportunity to revitalise ACP-EU trading relations, promote economic diversification and regional integration, and reduce poverty in ACP countries.

I mentioned in my speech that the EU must be accountable. This is taxpayers’ money, and democratic accountability is of concern to all of us and is essential. We have failed in many respects to help ACP countries; now I believe we have a real chance to do something that will really make a mark, provided we have the goodwill of all of them.

Unfortunately I have to leave now to go back for personal reasons. I have worked very closely with the Commission and the Commissioner. I think we have had a very good understanding and I would like to take this opportunity to thank them. I hope that we can continue to work in that manner.


  Peter Mandelson, Member of the Commission. Mr President, I regard this report as very constructive, very realistic and very welcome.

As I said earlier this year in the Committee on International Trade, Mr Sturdy’s is a contribution which helps us look afresh at the challenges we face in these difficult, time-pressured talks. Yes, the EPA negotiations have moved slowly – more slowly, frankly, than anyone could possibly justify. But at the same time we have to recognise that these agreements are new, innovative and ambitious. When change is involved, people inevitably are uncertain and, therefore, want to tread carefully. We need to balance our need to complete these negotiations on time with our need to respect others’ uncertainties.

I fully agree with the starting point of the report, that appropriately designed EPAs are an opportunity to revitalise ACP-EU trading relations. In fact, I would say that they are our only real opportunity to stop the further slide of ACP trade into the commodity dependence and decreasing diversification that have typified ACP trade over the last quarter of a century. We looked for alternatives, and there is no shortage of suggestions and ideas. None provides the legally secure trade regime or links to development that EPAs do. None tackles the divisions between ACP countries in trade regimes that prevent regional markets emerging and lock countries into a North/South dependency.

So I am pleased that the report recognises the good faith and ambitious approach that we have taken. At the same time it recognises that trade is not the panacea for development. Only domestically driven policy reform built on firm foundations of good governance and an enabling environment for business and investment can secure the economic growth and development which the ACP countries seek. But I also agree that trade is critical to support and build on this reform and, in so doing, deliver inclusive growth and jobs. That is why I am determined that we will take the opportunity that EPAs present to us.

The development dimension of EPAs is in using market access, not merely granting it. It is investment finance, not merely development aid. This needs new rules fit for a globalised world, and this is why I am so keen that EPAs address issues such as competition policy, public procurement and trade facilitation. But we know our partners’ limits and will work with them to phase in change and to identify regionally specific needs and solutions. No one is talking about immediate overnight change or imposing rules. But we will keep talking. To turn away in the face of challenge would be to neglect our duty to give the ACP the economic future they deserve. We want to secure sustainable development, not unsustainable poverty.

The Sturdy report calls for full duty-free, quota-free market access into Europe, and this is what we propose. The Commission’s market access offer was made in April and proposes full access for all products with transitions for sugar and rice to protect the managed markets that the ACP rely on. This delivers on our promises to take the greatest commitments on market access and hand the full flexibility of WTO rules on exclusions and implementation over to the ACP themselves.

Everyone will be aware of the importance the ACP rightly attach to additional development support in this negotiation. This is a point on which Robert Sturdy sets out some very useful proposals. Funding is important. We must help the ACP grasp the new trading opportunities that EPAs will provide. The EPAs will not fail for lack of financial assistance – that I can guarantee. As part of this, we have suggested that EPA regional funds be established by each of the negotiating regions in order to build a tailor-made instrument, in line with international standards but owned and run by the ACP with ease of use. These funds, which would also be available to channel the support of other donors, could include institutional support to ensure that the capacity to implement the EPAs is there: private sector competitiveness – from access to finance to industrial retooling, to improving SPS standards; and helping out financially in those countries which face a fiscal challenge with the lowering of tariff barriers as revenues are shifted from governments to consumers.

So our ambition is clear: to build, through EPAs, a trade and development instrument which galvanises investment flows, internal demand, private sector activity and job creation and, in so doing, builds a sustainable fiscal base for ACP governments to operate, to provide basic services and to determine their own economic future free of WTO waivers, concessions and constraints.

Let me finish on a broader political point. There has been criticism, including from Members of this Parliament, of these negotiations, and concerns, particularly from our ACP partners, about the content, in some respects, of the negotiations. But we are now making headway in these negotiations. There is a positive dynamic to the negotiations. We have the real prospect of cementing a deep partnership for development between the EU and the ACP. The consequences of failure would be highly damaging to the EU and to the goal of balanced, dynamic growth in the ACP. That is why I welcome this report and Parliament’s support in delivering these agreements. I would like to express again my appreciation for the argument and the proposals and recommendations contained in it.


  Jean-Pierre Audy, au nom du groupe PPE-DE. – Monsieur le Président, Monsieur le Commissaire, chers collègues, en préambule, je voudrais excuser ma collègue Margie Sudre, retenue par un rendez-vous avec notre nouveau Premier ministre français, M. François Fillon. Elle aurait souhaité intervenir au sujet de la situation particulière des régions ultrapériphériques de l'Union, qui lui tiennent particulièrement à cœur. Je voudrais aussi féliciter mon ami Robert Sturdy pour l'ampleur et la qualité du travail accompli dans cet excellent rapport d'initiative.

Notre Union doit conclure avec les pays d'Afrique, des Caraïbes et du Pacifique, dits ACP, des accords de partenariat économique, dits APE, destinés à renforcer la croissance économique, l'intégration régionale et la lutte contre la pauvreté dans six grandes zones défavorisées de la planète. Conformément à l'esprit de Cotonou, il faut sans cesse rappeler que les APE ne doivent pas se résumer à de simples accords de libre-échange, au sens de l'Organisation mondiale du commerce, mais représenter un véritable partenariat, permettant d'aménager un nouveau cadre d'intervention favorable au développement des économies des pays ACP et, donc, de la stabilisation de la paix, notamment sur le continent africain, avec une dynamique d'intégration régionale.

En raison de leur position géographique, à proximité de nombreux pays ACP, les collectivités d'outre-mer, qu'elles appartiennent ou non au territoire de l'Union, doivent être au cœur de ces accords préférentiels et réciproques. La situation particulière des régions ultrapériphériques et des pays et territoires d'outre-mer doit impérativement être prise en compte dans le cadre de cette négociation, sur la base de l'article 299, paragraphes 2 et 3, du traité. Il faut les associer le plus en amont possible à la négociation pour envisager des différenciations en matière d'accès au marché et coordonner leurs modalités respectives d'accompagnement, afin de renforcer leur insertion dans leur environnement régional.

C'est dans ce contexte, chers collègues, que je vous encourage à soutenir l'amendement cosigné par Margie Sudre et Robert Sturdy, au nom du groupe PPE, et destiné à trouver un équilibre intelligent entre l'intégration régionale de ces territoires ultramarins et les liens historiques et géopolitiques qui les unissent à l'Europe.


  Margrietus van den Berg, namens de PSE-Fractie. – Voorzitter, commissaris, dank aan Robert Sturdy. Iedereen is het erover eens dat handel kan helpen armoede te bestrijden. Helaas werken de handelsvoordelen voor de ACS-landen waarin de Overeenkomst van Cotonou voorziet, in de praktijk te weinig. Hetzelfde geldt eigenlijk voor Alles behalve Wapens.

Dat heeft alles te maken met de gebrekkige handelsomstandigheden in de ontwikkelingsregio's in kwestie, de hoge gestandaardiseerde Europese importeisen en de nog steeds niet hervormde en op de praktijk afgestemde oorsprongsregels. Die problemen maken dat de ACS-landen voorlopig nog niet in staat zijn om in de wereldeconomie mee te draaien. Sterker nog, ze schuiven er nog verder uit weg.

Het debat over de economische partnerschapsovereenkomsten moet daarom in de eerste plaats ook niet gaan over het verkrijgen van vrijhandelsovereenkomsten, maar over het sluiten van ontwikkelingscontracten. Handelsontwikkeling in de eigen regio, inclusief het moeizaam te ontwikkelen institutionele kader en personele middelen, en de millenniumdoelstellingen moeten in die ontwikkelingscontracten centraal staan. Pas op veel langere termijn kunnen we het dan hebben over de opening van de markten voor de EU. Daar zit wat ons betreft het probleem.

Alles lijkt, en dat is natuurlijk ook logisch, doordat de termijn op 1 januari afloopt, alles lijkt gericht op 1 januari 2008. Maar ondertussen is de aangeboden flexibiliteit die nu in de onderhandelingen speelt, eigenlijk onvoldoende gebonden aan ontwikkelingsindicatoren en veel meer aan vrij vage tijdsindicaties. Er is sprake geweest van vijfentwintig jaar, maar die termijn is nergens expliciet genoemd.

Is de Commissie bereid om de toegang van de EU tot de markten in kwestie te koppelen aan een ontwikkelingsbenchmark, zodat we zeker zijn dat de lokale markten daar er klaar voor zijn? Is de Commissie er bovendien toe bereid om voor de regio's die uiteindelijk geen EPO willen - en nogmaals, wij geven alle steun aan de onderhandelingen hierover - maar als uiteindelijk wordt besloten geen EPO te sluiten, expliciet ook het alternatief te accepteren van een SAP+?

We kennen de technische discussie, maar wat ons betreft is het zo, als je niet kijkt naar bananen en suiker - die zijn in de praktijk al tussen haakjes gezet, ook door onszelf - dat het voor 98% wel degelijk om een reëel alternatief voor de huidige handelsvoordelen gaat. Als de EU ook bereid is om werk te maken van snelle hervorming van de regels van oorsprong - en de commissaris heeft dat zojuist in een ander debat nog eens bevestigd - dan zou dat kunnen betekenen dat we daarmee ook een stuk verder komen.

Over de Singapore-thema’s: fijn natuurlijk, als regio's hiermee op een bepaald moment zelf iets willen. Daar is niets mis mee. Alleen, laten we niets opdringen.

Voorzitter, het is van het grootste belang om de tijdsdruk van de EPO-onderhandelingen te halen. Dat heb ik al gezegd. En daarom willen we ons eigenlijk richten op het ontwikkelingscontractdenken, waarbij de PSE-Fractie zegt: neem ruimte bij de onderhandelingen en tijd, inhoud en geld, en kom tot een werkelijk onderhandelingscontract. Als de EPO zo uitdraaien, is het fantastisch en anders is het gewoon geen goed aanbod. En wees ook bereid om de SAP+ als een reëel alternatief mee op tafel te hebben en om hierover in de discussies ook gewoon open en vrank te spreken.


  Sajjad Karim, on behalf of the ALDE Group. – Mr President, I should like to thank the rapporteur for the approach he has taken. Mr Sturdy’s approach in taking the Barbados resolution of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly as a starting point ensured that this report moved forward from a place of compromise.

As a whole, my group was satisfied with the tone and balance of the point, which is why we have not tabled any amendments. However, we remain concerned about a key contradiction within the report and within the conduct of the negotiations themselves: on the one hand, we urge negotiators to intensify efforts to complete the negotiations before the end of this year; yet, on the other hand, we call on the Commission not to exert undue pressure on the ACP countries. Both are accurate statements, but surely there can be nothing more pressing than a ticking clock with no acceptable deal on the table and no apparently suitable alternatives coming forward.

The Commissioner is familiar with the difficulties that deadlines present. We are not only dealing with the EPAs negotiations, but in the background we have timetables for regional integration and, of course, the troubled Doha Round. The fact that we do not have a WTO agreement has made these negotiations even harder, as the ACP cannot yet predict what they will get – if anything – out of Doha.

Through all this, however, runs the thread of development. To make increased liberalisation a driver of poverty reduction and economic growth, the European Union must integrate its trade and development policies, and nowhere is that more important than with the ACP and EPAs.

The EU is being accused of putting the year deadline before development. To counter such accusations I urge the Commissioner to demonstrate the Commission’s flexibility and commitment to the ACP’s concerns by undertaking a genuine exploration of development-oriented alternatives to the EPAs and, at the very least, if we do not have a workable agreement by the deadline, according to Cotonou we must provide at least equivalent market access to the ACP on 1 January 2008.

The European Union has the resources to undertake such an exercise. Meanwhile the ACP is struggling on a financial and technical basis. We have already spent a great deal of time discussing the EU’s aid for trade this morning and the two rapporteurs worked closely to ensure that these two reports went hand in hand.

The EU’s aid for trade programme is crucial to enabling the least-developed countries in the ACP to maximise on the benefits of increased liberalisation, and the Council has already confirmed that a substantial share of the increased trade-related assistance will be devoted to the ACP countries.

The ACP will continue to require substantial development assistance to address their supply-side constraints to trade beyond the next EDF. I would like to see the Commission and the Member States work towards significantly increasing the amount of aid for trade available as demand from ACP States increases through implementation of the EPAs. We must, however, acknowledge the moral difficulties of a major donor sitting across the negotiating table from a key recipient of aid for trade.

The Commission must not manipulate the prospect of aid by linking future development assistance to concessions made by the ACP in EPAs. Aid, by its very definition, can be used as a carrot, but it must under no circumstances be used as a stick if the EPAs are not concluded before the end of the 2007 deadline.

Aid for trade works best when it is delivering a common set of objectives between donor and recipient.

With the Committee on International Trade and Parliament’s delegation to the Joint Parliamentary Assembly, the Commissioner has a breadth and depth of parliamentarians with the expertise and willingness to engage with him on EPAs. As the clock keeps ticking, I urge the Commissioner to work with them to find a development-oriented solution to EPAs which ultimately fits in with the needs of the ACP.


  Leopold Józef Rutowicz, w imieniu grupy UEN. – Szanowny Panie Przewodniczący! Szanowni Państwo! Sprawozdanie pana Roberta Sturdy w sprawie umów o partnerstwie gospodarczym jest rzetelnym opisem obecnego stanu.

Istniejąca sytuacja nie jest dobra, pomimo dużego zaangażowania Unii Europejskiej. Oparcie współpracy na umowach nie uwzględniających rynku globalnego i zasad ustalonych przez WTO nie wróży powodzeniu umów o partnerstwie w ramach AKP.

Pomoc Unii Europejskiej dla tych krajów powinna przede wszystkim stymulować rozwój produkcji nie stwarzającej konkurencji dla producentów unijnych. Tym samym nie tworząc konfliktu interesów. Produkcja ta może być sprzedawana na rynku Unii Europejskiej na zasadzie umów wieloletnich. Przykładem mogą tu być biopaliwa, kopaliny. Oprócz pomocy humanitarnej tym krajom jest przede wszystkim potrzebna pomoc w tworzeniu nowych miejsc pracy.

Umowa o partnerstwie z krajami AKP powinna wiązać się ze strategią gospodarczą Unii Europejskiej. Nowe umowy powinny być oparte o zasady ustalone przez Komisję Europejską, Parlament Europejski oraz AKP.


  Frithjof Schmidt, im Namen der Verts/ALE-Fraktion. – Herr Präsident! Die Verhandlungen treten jetzt in eine entscheidende Phase ein, und sie sollen nicht scheitern. Klar ist aber auch, dass der große Zeitdruck die schwächeren unserer Partnerländer überfordert. Das ist es, was wir immer wieder zu hören bekommen.

Deswegen brauchen wir eine bewusst flexiblere Handelsplanung über den 1.1.2008 hinaus. Wir sollten aus den Fehlern der Doha-Runde lernen; dabei gab es auch ein sakrosanktes Datum, das dann überschritten wurde. Bei den erreichten Zwischenergebnissen wird es auch nicht schwierig sein, das gegenüber der Welthandelsorganisation darzustellen. Es sind hier auch Alternativen angesprochen worden, etwa das GSP+ auszubauen und weiterzuentwickeln. Das könnte ein möglicher Weg sein. Darauf müssen wir uns vorbereiten, das darf nicht überraschend kommen. Wir sollten aufhören, die Verhandlungen mit den Regeln für Investitionen im Dienstleistungsbereich zu überfrachten. Das erschwert die Verhandlungen, es führt nicht dazu, dass wir zu einem schnellen Abschluss kommen, und es verhindert, dass wir uns auf das Wesentliche konzentrieren.


  Vittorio Agnoletto, a nome del gruppo GUE/NGL. – Signor Presidente, onorevoli colleghi, il negoziato EPA, così come condotto dalla Commissione europea con l'avallo del Consiglio, mette a rischio la sovranità economica ed alimentare dei paesi ACP, pregiudica ogni residua possibilità per questi paesi di consolidare le proprie filiere produttive aumentando il valore aggiunto delle proprie produzioni e li espone al rischio di un'ulteriore deindustrializzazione.

L'impatto socio-ambientale dell'apertura indiscriminata dei mercati locali agli investimenti internazionali, principalmente orientati al settore delle risorse naturali e della terra stessa, si sommerebbe negativamente alla mancanza di effettivi ritorni economici per le popolazioni di quei paesi: l'unico vantaggio sarebbe per le grandi aziende multinazionali europee! Su capitoli come i cosiddetti temi di Singapore, il commercio dei servizi e i diritti di proprietà intellettuale ci troveremo inoltre dinanzi a regole ancora più stringenti di quelle fissate dalla stessa Organizzazione mondiale del commercio. Un accordo OMC Plus spingerà le popolazioni africane ancora di più nel baratro dell'indigenza!

In Africa è a rischio la stabilità di intere comunità rurali, sono a rischio migliaia di posti di lavoro dell'industria della manifattura. Senza lavoro non resta che migrare, tentando la sorte su quelle carrette del mare che negli ultimi giorni sono tornate a invadere le sponde europee del Mediterraneo.

Come gruppo GUE chiediamo di fermare i negoziati EPA così come impostati e ripartire su basi differenti mettendo al centro la giustizia sociale, la solidarietà e l'autosviluppo dei popoli. Consideriamo inconcepibile ed illogico che mentre il negoziato sul Doha Round vive uno stallo la Commissione europea pretenda che il negoziato EPA non possa prevedere deroghe sulla scadenza negoziale.

Tutta l'Unione europea dovrebbe invece adoperarsi in sede WTO affinché si ottenga il riconoscimento di un regime transitorio per mantenere un sistema di preferenze commerciali a vantaggio dei paesi ACP, fintantoché un nuovo accordo non sarà finalizzato. Per tutti questi motivi ed altri ancora che non ho tempo di addurre, la decisione del mio gruppo è quella di votare contro la relazione Sturdy.


  Jerzy Buzek (PPE-DE). – Dziękuję Panie Przewodniczący! Zabieram głos także jako członek stałych delegacji Unii Europejskiej do krajów AKP. Chciałem podziękować Panu Komisarzowi za wystąpienie, popieram główne tezy, a przede wszystkim gratuluję sprawozdawcy, panu Robertowi Sturdy. To jest bardzo dobre i bardzo obszerne sprawozdanie, ale są tam 53 punkty, drobiazgowe. To niemal instrukcja negocjacyjna.

Jeszcze raz podkreślam profesjonalizm opracowania, ale chodzi mi o pewien aspekt polityczny, który powinien wynikać ze sprawozdania Parlamentu Europejskiego. I ja tutaj chciałem podać krótko pięć punktów, które moim zdaniem są najważniejsze, jeśli chodzi o oddziaływanie nasze, Parlamentu, na negocjacje.

Po pierwsze, konieczność wyjaśnienia aspektu trwałego rozwoju w umowach o partnerstwie gospodarczym. To nie jest w tej chwili takie jasne dla krajów, z którymi dyskutujemy.

Po drugie, stwierdzenie, że otwarcie rynku w ramach umów o partnerstwie gospodarczym, samo tylko otwarcie rynku, nie poprawia konkurencyjności. To bardzo ważne, żeby zdali sobie sprawę z tego także nasi partnerzy z krajów AKP.

Po trzecie, powinniśmy w jakiś sposób stymulować reformy w tych krajach, poprzez preferencje, zachęty, także poprzez pomoc naukową, edukacyjną, wymianę ludzi. Chodzi o ogólny rozwój cywilizacyjny, który jest czasem ważniejszy nawet niż otwarcie rynku na produkty.

Po czwarte, musimy chronić pewne szczególne i wrażliwe sektory, na przykład rolnictwo w tych krajach. Musimy chronić grupy społeczne; niektóre, na przykład kobiety, mogą się okazać w ramach niektórych ustaleń także zagrożone. A szczególne preferencje powinniśmy dawać dla leków i dla spraw ochrony zdrowia.

I punkt piąty, ostatni. Integracja i współpraca regionalna, tam, na miejscu, to jest zasadnicza sprawa. Nasza Unia Europejska też rozwijała się na zasadzie wzajemnej współpracy, przede wszystkim. I na to powinniśmy kłaść nacisk.


  Kader Arif (PSE). – Monsieur le Président, Monsieur le Commissaire, chers collègues, la négociation des accords de partenariat économique entre la Commission et les pays ACP suscite les plus vives inquiétudes chez ces derniers et se déroule dans un climat incompatible avec la relation de partenariat historique qui nous lie.

L'Europe est perçue comme cherchant à imposer à tout prix des zones de libre-échange à des pays qui sont parmi les plus pauvres du monde, et à ses conditions. La relation de confiance avec les pays ACP est désormais en jeu.

Nous devons reprendre la négociation sur des bases nouvelles pour répondre aux inquiétudes soulevées dans les pays ACP concernant l'impact des APE sur l'avenir de leur économie, dont de nombreux secteurs ne pourraient résister à un abaissement des protections douanières et à une mise en concurrence non maîtrisée avec l'économie européenne.

La Commission doit revenir aux principes établis dans l'accord de Cotonou. L'objectif est le développement, et non la réciprocité dans l'ouverture des marchés. Un tel principe serait contradictoire avec l'objectif fixé, compte tenu des inégalités de développement qui ne disparaîtront pas en vingt ans. Ainsi, ces pays doivent avoir la possibilité de choisir entre un APE ou une autre formule d'accord préférentiel.

Nous devons offrir à ceux qui ne signeraient pas d'APE d'ici à la fin 2007 un accès au marché au moins équivalent aux préférences dont ils bénéficient actuellement, aucun d'entre eux ne devant se retrouver dans une situation plus défavorable au terme de ces accords.

Par ailleurs, les services et les sujets de Singapour n'ont pas à être introduits dans la négociation. La seule obligation au regard de la mise en conformité avec les règles de l'OMC concerne les préférences accordées pour le commerce des marchandises. Ces sujets ont été sortis de la négociation au sein de l'OMC, à la demande des pays en développement. Ils n'ont pas à être réintroduits brutalement pour les pays ACP. Ces questions sont d'abord du ressort des regroupements régionaux des pays ACP, dont il faut respecter la souveraineté en la matière. La Commission doit donc les retirer de la négociation.

En outre, les parlements des pays ACP et le Parlement européen, de même que la société civile, doivent avoir accès à tous les éléments de la négociation, être consultés et associés pendant son déroulement.

Enfin, si des délais plus longs sont nécessaires pour mener à bien la négociation de bons accords de partenariat économique, la Commission doit faire preuve de flexibilité et en défendre le principe auprès des membres de l'OMC.


  Johan Van Hecke (ALDE). – Voorzitter, collega Sturdy heeft een evenwichtig verslag geschreven waarin ook tegemoet gekomen wordt aan de terechte kritiek van de ACS-partners dat bij de onderhandelingen door de EU te weinig wordt geluisterd naar hun verzuchtingen en te veel eenzijdig dingen worden opgelegd.

Ik zou hier kort iets willen zeggen over een aspect dat vaak wordt vergeten, met name het regionale aspect van de EPO: het versterken van de zuid-zuidhandel. De ontwikkelingsdoelstellingen kunnen alleen worden bereikt als de EPO gericht zijn op het aanmoedigen van goed economisch beheer, op het bevorderen van de regionale integratie van de ACS-economieën en op het aantrekken en vasthouden van meer investeringen. Een tijdige en effectieve handelsgerelateerde bijstand is een conditio sine qua non om het handelspotentieel van de ACS-regio's te versterken.

In dit verband zou ik de Commissie willen herinneren aan de toezegging van voorzitter Barroso om de ontwikkelingslanden een miljard euro aan handelssteun te verlenen. Het is een slecht teken dat in de overeenkomst van de Raad over de volgende financiële vooruitzichten onvoldoende voorzieningen voor de voorgestelde 190 miljoen euro per jaar voor landen uit het suikerprotocol worden getroffen.

Het nakomen van beloften is nochtans een kwestie van elementaire geloofwaardigheid, die wel eens bepalend voor het succes van de onderhandelingen zou kunnen zijn.


  Carl Schlyter (Verts/ALE). – Det finns tre ledord som kommissionen behöver följa i förhandlingarna: att lyssna, inte tvinga och inte stressa. Vi ska lyssna på deras krav.

Dessa förhandlingar är inte jämlika. Du, Peter Mandelson, har hundratals experter till ditt förfogande. De har ett fåtal. Vi har en enorm ekonomisk makt. De har bara ett gryende näringsliv. Vi kan köpa upp hela deras näringsliv. De har knappt möjlighet att köpa mat för dagen. Med så olika villkor är det viktigt att vi lyssnar på deras krav och försöker tillgodose dem.

EPA ska vara till för deras utveckling, inte vår profit. Vi ska därför inte tvinga dem. Vill de inte öppna upp en marknad, så ska vi, precis som sägs i punkt 17 i resolutionen, inte tvinga dem. Alla handelsexperter skolade i nyliberalt tänkande tror att minskade tariffer alltid är bra och att fri handel alltid är bättre än rättvis, men verkligheten visar att det inte är så. Och det är i verkligheten våra förhandlingspartner lever. En felaktig liberalisering leder till att människor kan dö. Ni kan förklara vad ni anser, men låt dem fatta besluten. Om de har fel är det deras fel. Det är lättare att leva med brister man själv är ansvarig för och kan ändra på än att leva i misär som är påtvingad av andra. Reciprocitet är inte nödvändigt. Låt dem bestämma om det. Vi kan leva med den och vi kan leva utan den, men de kan dö av den.

Slutligen skall vi inte stressa. Jag hoppas därför att kammaren stryker skäl F och ger bifall till ändringsförslag 4. Låt förhandlingarna ta den tid som krävs och låt under tiden det allmänna preferenssystemet vara kvar. Då kan de tryggt fortsätta att sälja till oss utan att ha ett damoklessvärd hängande över sig. Vi 27 EU-länder utgör tillsammans med AVS-länderna en dominerande grupp i WTO. Om vi vill kan vi tillsammans säga att vi behöver förlänga tiden för förhandlingarna eller utarbeta alternativ till ekonomiska partnerskapsavtal.


  Gabriele Zimmer (GUE/NGL). – Herr Präsident, verehrte Kollegen, Herr Kommissar! Als die WTO urteilte, die Zollbevorteilung der EU für ihre ehemaligen Kolonien bedeute gleichzeitig eine Benachteiligung für andere Entwicklungsländer, hat sie damit nicht zu einer Neuordnung der Welt aufgerufen.

Herr Kommissar, Sie überschätzen aus meiner Sicht bei Weitem die Planungskompetenz Ihrer Behörde. Die EPA-Entwürfe, die Sie jetzt den Verhandlungspartnern auf den Tisch gelegt haben, bedeuten eine klare Überschreitung Ihres Verhandlungsmandats. Völlig ungeachtet der Erfahrung, die wir selbst in Europa gemacht haben, wollen Sie einen globalen Flickenteppich aus rein wirtschaftlich basierten Staatenbündnissen erzwingen. Sie geben damit Ihren Partnern gar nicht erst die Chance, sozial und politisch zueinander zu finden, und Sie verschaffen damit den europäischen Unternehmen einen riesigen Wettbewerbsvorteil.

Ich jedenfalls lehne es ab, unseren Partnerländern Bedingungen aufzuzwingen, wie sie die marktradikalen Kräfte noch nicht einmal innerhalb der EU durchsetzen konnten. Ihre Vorschriften für öffentliche Aufträge sind unverhüllte Keile für die Marktöffnung. Sie stellen zwar zwei Boxer in den gleichen Ring, aber der eine Boxer wiegt 100 kg mehr als der andere.

Deshalb fordere ich Sie auf, alle Verhandlungen auszusetzen, die über die Zolltarife hinausgehen, und Ihre Kraft dafür einzusetzen, dass wir eine entwicklungsgerechtere Form der WTO insgesamt erreichen.


  David Martin (PSE). – Mr President, I would like to join with those who have congratulated Robert Sturdy on what I think is a good report. The report correctly stresses that these are negotiations that are being conducted between unequal partners and it has been a theme of many of the other contributors this morning. I think the fact that the Commission and the ACP countries perceive the negotiations from a different standpoint is at the heart of many of the problems. If we look at the end of the year deadline, the perception of the Commission is that the deadline is an essential tool for meeting its WTO obligations. From the viewpoint of many of the ACP countries on the other hand, the deadline is being used to rush them into agreeing unsuitable agreements, and the Commission, I think, has to do much more to reassure the ACP countries that the deadline is not and will not be used to browbeat the ACP countries into agreements that they cannot otherwise live with.

On the situation with aid, the Commission says, and Commissioner Mandelson repeated this morning, that the negotiations will not fail for lack of money. But it is unfair to expect ACP countries to make long-term decisions on liberalisation and regional integration without having a long-term view of the amount of assistance that would be available to help them put together the regional regulatory frameworks to instigate new methods of collecting government revenues to make up for the loss of the tariff income or to construct a type of infrastructure which we know from our own experience in the EU is so important to developing our regional economy.

When we move on to the issue of market access, I have heard the Commissioner say in this Chamber that the European Union has no offensive trade objectives with ACP countries. But again, when we hear from negotiators, their perception is that the Commission is pushing them very hard to open up our services markets and to make other market-opening offers.

I say all this in a genuine spirit of belief that the Commission wants a pro-development package with the six regions. The Commission believes it is acting in the interests of the ACP countries, but it must understand that negotiations between unequal partners create suspicion in the weaker partner. When we talk about deadlines, they see threats, when we are vague on the aid package, they see linkage between the amount of market-opening they are prepared to offer and the size of their aid package. If we are to overcome these concerns, then we must bring more openness and transparency to the talks themselves and we must promise that once we conclude the talks, that there will be parliamentary oversight to the finally concluded agreements so that they can be reassured that parliamentarians will be involved in this process from their implementation.


  Fiona Hall (ALDE). – Mr President, following the progress of the EPA negotiations has been like living in two parallel universes. On the one hand, there have been many statements from the ACP side that the process lacks the development focus it is supposed to have. The ACP countries insist that they are being put under pressure to negotiate on the Commission’s terms and they are particularly concerned that the Commission has failed to give time for proper impact assessments and has dismissed any assessments that were not in line with its own position. On the other hand, strangely, the Commission has maintained throughout that no one is complaining or asking for alternatives to EPAs.

However, the January 2007 review of EPAs by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa was clear. This external and independent review concluded that there was a failure of the negotiations to have a development focus and an excessive focus on trade liberalisation alone. Given this external UN assessment, I do not see how the Commission can keep on maintaining that the EPA negotiations have a positive dynamic and that everything is rosy.


  Glenys Kinnock (PSE). – Mr President, I trust that the Commission will take note of the concerns that many– indeed, the vast majority of – Members of Parliament have raised this morning.

The EPA negotiations are clearly at a very critical stage, and this week European Union and ACP ministers meet in Brussels to review progress, at a time when, as others have said, they are under intense pressure to conclude by the end of 2007. The reality is, of course, that even where technically they are well prepared, ACP countries still face serious political issues which remain between ACP member states, within governments in the ACP, between governments and private sector, civil society and regional integration organisations.

David Martin raised some very important points about the level of suspicion and anxiety that exists in ACP countries. In the last few weeks I have been in both west and east Africa and, from the Prime Minister of Senegal, to the President of Ghana, to the Tanzanian Minister of Trade, the message was exactly the same: there are too many unresolved issues. On aid for trade: is it new money? Is it predictable? When is it going to be on the table? On levels of regional integration, in Tanzania I learnt of the enormous problems there and of the new east Africa configuration which they are planning for and have, I think, written to the Commissioner about. Then there are the Singapore issues, which others have mentioned and which are currently causing enormous difficulties in the SADC negotiations.

Most ACP member states have welcomed duty-free, quota-free access. However, it remains the case – and I am not sure that anyone has mentioned this – that a dozen or more EU Member States are expressing concern and objections to the proposal, and some ACP states are concerned about the impact on sugar, bananas and rice. Only yesterday, Barbados was saying that the region could benefit only if the EU ensured that they build the technical, productive and infrastructural capacity so that they can maximise the opportunities, particularly for sugar, between 2009 and 2015.

There is this doomsday scenario that people talk about. That is why, if they cannot sign up by the end of this year, the ACP should be provided with a high level of market access using GSP+.

The assertion I hear that alternatives do not exist is simply not the case and neither is the claim that no ACP region or country has asked for them. Recent research by the ODI, the UN and others points to an enhanced GSP as a viable alternative to EPAs and would provide that essential breathing space for negotiations to continue. GSP+ would provide more generous access than GSP, which is clearly not an option. Most ACP countries could well meet the eligibility criteria and would be provided with a level of market access almost equivalent to Cotonou for current exports, with very few exceptions.


  Alain Hutchinson (PSE). – Monsieur le Président, Monsieur le Commissaire, chers collègues, je voudrais tout d'abord me réjouir de la tenue de ce débat, ici et aujourd'hui, et ce, notamment, parce qu'il inflige, à mon sens, un démenti flagrant aux allégations, que nous entendons régulièrement ces derniers mois, selon lesquelles seuls quelques agités de la gauche européenne et une société civile défiant la Commission européenne par principe ou par habitude s'inquiéteraient du déroulement et du résultat des négociations sur les accords de partenariat économique. Ce n'est certainement pas le cas, nous l'avons entendu ce matin.

Pour dire les choses simplement, une seule question se pose en fait aujourd'hui dans le cadre de ces négociations, et cette question est la suivante: la Commission est-elle en mesure de garantir aux pays ACP qu'une fois signés, ces accords leur apporteront des conditions de développement plus favorables que celles dont ils bénéficient aujourd'hui? Si c'est le cas, je n'ai personnellement plus beaucoup de problèmes avec ces accords de partenariat économique. Si ce n'est pas le cas, ce que je crains, nous devons nous opposer à ceux-ci tels qu'on nous les présente pour l'instant, et tant qu'ils font la part belle à une vision trop exclusivement marchande des relations entre les hommes, au détriment de l'intérêt général des populations des pays ACP.

L'amélioration des conditions de vie du plus grand nombre de nos contemporains et des générations futures, au Nord comme au Sud, est un objectif prioritaire que nous sommes en droit d'exiger de la part de la Commission. Dans cet esprit, celle-ci se doit de poursuivre la négociation sur ces accords, de meilleure grâce et en toute transparence. À cet égard, je renvoie aux propos très concrets, très corrects, de mon collègue Arif. Mais la Commission se doit aussi de s'accorder, et d'accorder à nos interlocuteurs, les délais nécessaires, comme plusieurs orateurs qui sont intervenus avant moi viennent de le dire. Il est grand temps que cette exigence, portée par des millions de citoyens européens que nous représentons ici, soit considérée avec beaucoup plus de sérieux et de respect qu'aujourd'hui.

Monsieur le Commissaire, nous entendons ce matin, et très régulièrement ici, parler abondamment et avec insistance d'économie, d'ouverture de marchés et de compétitivité. Ces mots, ne l'oublions pas, nous devons les considérer pour ce qu'ils sont, c'est-à-dire des concepts et, au mieux, des instruments, qui n'ont de valeur que pour leur contribution éventuelle à la satisfaction de l'intérêt général, de l'intérêt du plus grand nombre de personnes, pas d'un nombre, même grandissant, de privilégiés, qui sauront profiter, au Nord comme au Sud, de n'importe quel accord passé avec n'importe qui, mais bien d'un nombre grandissant d'hommes, de femmes et d'enfants qui, ensemble, constituent la grande majorité des exclus de notre monde et qui attendent énormément d'une relation, sinon généreuse, du moins équilibrée avec leurs partenaires européens.


  Marie-Arlette Carlotti (PSE). – Monsieur le Président, Monsieur le Commissaire, dans ses dernières propositions, l'Union envisage d'étendre le concept "tout sauf les armes" à l'ensemble des pays ACP.

C'est une avancée, certes, qui permettrait de garantir qu'aucun d'entre eux ne perde au change après 2007, mais ce n'est pas une solution miracle, qui ferait des APE des accords de développement. Pour cela, il faut aller plus loin: prévoir une période de transition bien plus longue que les dix ou douze ans qui sont actuellement proposés; mettre fin au dumping agricole et respecter le principe de souveraineté alimentaire; offrir un vrai traitement spécial et différencié et permettre aux pays ACP de protéger certains de leurs secteurs; mettre fin aux pressions sur les sujets de Singapour, afin de respecter le droit de tous les États à gérer librement leurs services publics, et, enfin, impliquer davantage les sociétés civiles et les parlements.

Je crois que c'est à ce prix-là que les APE pourront servir, en priorité, le développement de l'Afrique, et pas seulement celui de l'Europe.


  Peter Mandelson, Member of the Commission. Mr President, it is a pleasure for me to respond to this debate on behalf of the Commission because of the importance of this subject: nothing less than future development, alleviation of poverty and opportunities to use the advantages of the international trade system are at stake for the ACP, some of the most poverty-struck countries in the world to whom we owe an absolute obligation.

The Economic Partnership Agreements are about using trade as a lever for development. We have no intention of forcing ACP countries to make commitments against their will. We are operating with one constraint, however: EPAs need to be WTO-compliant, thus including trade-opening on both sides for trade in goods and trade in services. This of course, and I say this emphatically, does not mean symmetrical trade-opening between the EU and the ACP. Obviously, in market-opening towards its partners, the EU will go much beyond what ACP partners will do for the EU.

In addition, in many areas, we are ready to give serious consideration to transition periods and in some cases very long transition periods – up to 25 years – together with substantial financial aid to help these countries implement their commitments so that EPAs genuinely act as a catalyst for policy reforms in ACP countries.

Concerning market access, recently the General Affairs Council of our Member States reaffirmed the principle of duty-free, quota-free, access to the ACP but with transition periods for a few sensitive products, notably rice and sugar. The same principle applies on bananas but we agreed on additional evaluation, notably to take into account the EU’s outermost regions, and that will happen.

Specifically, in response to what Mr van den Berg said, we are jointly building with ACP regions asymmetric market access schedules which allow continued protection for ACP-sensitive sectors. Our duty-free, quota-free offer gives great scope to protect the ACP and to open their markets in a deeply asymmetric manner. In addition, flexible safeguards will be in place so that we can take action quickly if problems arise. However, a conditional market access schedule would once again put our trading arrangements in a vulnerable position in the WTO, creating further uncertainty for ACP traders and investors. Introducing such a conditional approach would therefore not be wise from the point of view of the interests of the ACP countries themselves.

Some Members have talked about alternatives to EPAs. I can say without any hesitation or qualification whatsoever: there are no better development-friendly or superior development instruments available to us that would exceed the ambition and the potential that Economic Partnership Agreements offer. To offer GSP as some have suggested, when instead we could negotiate good Economic Partnership Agreements, would indeed be nonsense. ACP countries that are not LDCs would end up with worse market access to the European Union than almost any other developing countries in the world.

Yes, some then go on to propose GSP+ as an alternative, by relaxing entry criteria to GSP+ and expanding its coverage. This again is completely unacceptable. GSP+ continues the divisions in trade regime between LDCs and non-LDCs that EPAs are seeking to remove and does not promote the use of market access in the way that EPAs do. The GSP is open to all countries and many would simply take advantage of relaxed GSP+ criteria, exposing the ACP to direct competition while fundamentally undermining the purpose of GSP+, which is using trade preferences to promote signature of accords on human rights and good working practices. So I hope that people will not pursue or entertain the idea of GSP or GSP+ being an acceptable and/or superior alternative to EPAs.

The best development option by far is to sign EPAs on time. Any alternative falls short of this. We cannot simply flout WTO rules on the goods trade section of EPAs. If it becomes clear that for any region we are really not going to make it, LDCs get Everything but Arms; for non-LDCs that export bananas in particular, the waiver route is probably not politically viable at all. For others, things depend on progress in negotiations.

I would like to conclude by saying that, in contrast to some of those who have spoken here in Parliament this morning, I find the approach of the ACP countries shows considerable realism and understanding of what it is in the ACP’s interests to do. The ACP countries have voluntarily agreed the route map that we are following in negotiating these agreements. It is certainly not in the interests of the ACP for those who present themselves as friends of the ACP to peddle a doomsday scenario, to generate fears and insecurity which can only hold the ACP back from engaging in the negotiations which it is so much in their interest to conclude by the end of the year.


  El Presidente. Se cierra el debate.

La votación tendrá lugar mañana a las 12.00 horas.

Declaraciones por escrito (artículo 142 del Reglamento)


  Richard Seeber (PPE-DE), schriftlich. – Ich möchte dem Herrn Berichterstatter recht herzlich für seinen Hinweis auf den großen Handlungsbedarf von Seiten der Europäischen Union bei der Aushandlung von Wirtschaftspartnerschaftsabkommen danken.

Zunächst sollten wir uns vor Augen halten, dass wir für eine effiziente Einbeziehung der AKP-Staaten in den Welthandel an einem gleichmäßigen Erfolg in allen regionalen Gruppen arbeiten müssen. Dies kann unter anderem durch Handelserleichterungen und technische Hilfe für die Produzenten geschehen, sodass diese ihre Verluste bei Zolleinnahmen ausgleichen können. Damit allein ist diesen Staaten jedoch noch nicht gedient. Sie benötigen vielmehr auch eine fachgerechte Anleitung, um aus dem erleichterten Marktzugang auch tatsächlich Vorteile ziehen zu können.

Darüber hinaus wäre es meiner Meinung nach essentiell, das zu Grunde liegende Verwaltungsverfahren zu vereinfachen, um die vorhandenen Mittel effizienter nutzen zu können.

Ich denke, wir als Mitglieder des Europäischen Parlaments sollten uns der Tatsache bewusst sein, dass der Handel mit diesen Staaten auch von europäischem Interesse ist. Außerdem sind wir als Bürger entwickelter Staaten es den Bürgern der AKP-Staaten schuldig, für ihre Einbettung in den Welthandel alles in unserer Macht Stehende zu tun.



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