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Parliamentary questions
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3 February 2020
E-003823/2019(ASW)
Answer given by Mr Hogan
on behalf of the European Commission
Question reference: E-003823/2019

The suspension of the negotiations on a comprehensive regional Economic Partnership Agreement was a joint decision by the EU and the Pacific States due to the lack of progress and prospects and the withdrawal of Papua New Guinea (PNG) from the negotiations. No formal substantive negotiation round has taken place since July 2013.

The suspension allows the Parties to focus on implementing the existing Interim Partnership Agreement, which already contributes to the development aspirations of the countries involved and is open to accession of other Pacific ACP States.

The Parties have therefore opted for the widening of this Interim Partnership Agreement — and later its deepening. It is also a promising way forward towards achieving regional objectives, while giving Pacific countries the flexibility to engage when they are ready to adhere to a trade partnership with the EU.

The Commission strongly welcomes Samoa’s recent accession to this Agreement. During its plenary session on 17 December 2019, the European Parliament voted in favour of the accession of the Solomon Islands. Tonga is also currently negotiating its accession terms. The Commission stands ready to provide its full support to all Pacific States wishing to accede to the Interim Agreement.

The European Union will continue to support the implementation of the Interim Partnership Agreement through all relevant instruments including the Aid for Trade also in the post-Cotonou context.

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