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Procedure : 2010/2851(RSP)
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PV 19/01/2011 - 6.5
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Wednesday, 19 January 2011 - Strasbourg
Interim Partnership Agreement between the EC and the Pacific States

European Parliament resolution of 19 January 2011 on the Interim Partnership Agreement between the EC and the Pacific States

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its resolutions of 25 September 2003 on the Fifth Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organisation in Cancun(1), of 12 May 2005 on the assessment of the Doha Round following the WTO General Council Decision of 1 August 2004(2), of 1 December 2005 on preparations for the sixth Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organisation in Hong Kong(3), of 23 March 2006 on the development impact of Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs)(4), of 4 April 2006 on the assessment of the Doha Round following the WTO Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong(5), of 1 June 2006 ‘on trade and poverty: designing trade policies to maximise trade's contribution to poverty relief’(6), of 7 September 2006 on the suspension of negotiations on the Doha Development Agenda(7), of 23 May 2007 on Economic Partnership Agreements(8), of 12 December 2007 on Economic Partnership Agreements(9), its position of 5 June 2008 on the proposal for a Council regulation applying a scheme of generalised tariff preferences for the period from 1 January 2009 to 31 December 2011 and amending Regulations (EC) No 552/97, (EC) No 1933/2006 and Commission Regulations (EC) No 964/2007 and (EC) No 1100/2006(10) and its resolution of 25 March 2009 on the Interim Partnership Agreement between the Pacific States, on the one part, and the European Community, on the other part(11),

–  having regard to the Interim Partnership Agreement between the European Community, of the one part, and the Pacific States, of the other part,

–  having regard to the Partnership Agreement between the members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP), 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 Council Regulation (EC) No 1528/2007 of 20 December 2007 applying the arrangements for products originating in certain states which are part of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States provided for in agreements establishing, or leading to the establishment of, Economic Partnership Agreements(12),

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

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

–  having regard to the Ministerial Declaration of the Fourth Session of the WTO Ministerial Conference, adopted in Doha on 14 November 2001,

–  having regard to the Ministerial Declaration of the Sixth Session of the WTO Ministerial Conference, adopted in Hong Kong on 18 December 2005,

–  having regard to the report and recommendations of the Task Force on Aid for Trade, adopted by the WTO General Council on 10 October 2006,

–  having regard to the United Nations Millennium Declaration of 8 September 2000, which sets out the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as criteria collectively established by the international community for the elimination of poverty,

–  having regard to the Kigali Declaration adopted by the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly in Kigali, Rwanda, on 22 November 2007,

–  having regard to its resolution of 14 December 2006 on the situation in Fiji(13), in which it strongly condemned the take-over of power by the Fijian military forces,

–  having regard to a catalogue of 103 recommendations from the United Nations Human Rights Council, issued in the report of 23 March 2010 of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, and having regard to the official response of the Government of Fiji of 10 June 2010 stating that the long-demanded and often-postponed general elections had now been scheduled for 2014 and that this date would not be negotiable,

–  having regard to the question of 16 December 2010 to the Commission on the conclusion of the Interim Partnership Agreement between the European Community, of the one part, and the Pacific States, of the other part (O-0212/2010 – B7-0807/2010),

–  having regard to Rules 115(5) and 110(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas the EU's previous trade relationship with the ACP countries – which gave the latter preferential access to EU markets on a non-reciprocal basis – ceased to comply with WTO rules as of 1 January 2008,

B.  whereas EPAs are WTO-compatible agreements aimed at supporting regional integration and promoting the gradual integration of the ACP economies into the world economy, thereby fostering the sustainable social and economic development of those countries and contributing to the overall effort to eradicate poverty there,

C.  whereas EPAs should be used to build a long-term relationship in which trade supports development,

D.  whereas the Sugar Protocol under the successive Lomé Conventions and the Cotonou Agreement provided a predictable income for small Pacific islands, which have limited potential for diversification in the agriculture sector,

E.  whereas interim EPAs (IEPAs) are agreements on trade in goods aimed at preventing the disruption of ACP trade with the EU,

F.  whereas the current financial and economic crisis means that trade policy is more important than ever to the developing world,

G.  whereas, of the ACP Pacific states, to date only Papua New Guinea and the Republic of Fiji Islands have signed an IEPA (at the end of 2009); whereas the other ACP Pacific states are all covered either by the Everything But Arms initiative, which offers duty-free, quota-free access to the EU market, or by the EU's regular Generalised System of Preferences,

H.  whereas, in the case of Papua New Guinea, the agreement has provisionally applied since 20 December 2009; whereas, in the case of the Republic of the Fiji Islands, its application is pending notification by the Republic of the Fiji Islands of either provisional application or ratification,

I.  whereas negotiations with all 14 ACP Pacific states on a comprehensive EPA are ongoing,

J.  whereas the IEPA incorporates all the major provisions of a trade in goods agreement,

K.  whereas the impact on the countries concerned and on the Pacific region of the commitments included in the agreement could be very substantial,

L.  whereas the IEPA will have an influence on the scope and content of future agreements concluded between Papua New Guinea and the Republic of the Fiji Islands and other trading partners, and on the region's stance in the EPA negotiations,

M.  whereas there is limited competition between the EU and the Pacific states, since the vast majority of EU exports consist mainly of goods that the Pacific states do not produce but often need, either for direct consumption or as inputs for domestic industry,

N.  whereas fisheries and fisheries-related activities and industries show significant potential for future export increase, provided fisheries are conducted in an environmentally sustainable manner,

O.  whereas new trade rules must be devised with the aim of supporting the development of domestic industries and sheltering them from resource depletion and climate change, and whereas these rules must be accompanied by increased support for trade-related assistance,

P.  whereas the objective of Aid for Trade is to strengthen developing countries' capacity to take advantage of new trade opportunities,

Q.  whereas the EU and the ACP countries have negotiated new, improved and more flexible rules of origin which will bring considerable benefits if implemented appropriately, in full accordance with the purpose of the agreement and with due regard for the reduced capacity levels of those countries,

R.  whereas the derogation from the rules of origin in the interim EPA covers the entire production chain, from extraction of raw materials to processing, marketing and export,

S.  whereas the high demand for tuna products means the latter have specific characteristics – such as responding rapidly to price variations – which have led them to be classified on the international market as ‘sensitive products’, something that needs to be taken into account in all trade negotiations,

T.  whereas the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), the international organisation responsible for making sure that fish stocks in the area are sustainable, has reported that third countries – in particular China – which have been investing in large-scale industrial projects in Papua New Guinea since the establishment of the new rules of origin have massively increased their fishing capacity in the area, and that this is set to continue, increasing the risk of over-exploitation of fish stocks,

1.  Believes that trade relations between this region and the EU should promote and increase trade, sustainable development and regional integration, while promoting economic diversification and poverty reduction; points out that the IEPA must contribute to the achievement of the MDGs;

2.  Stresses that the positive outcome of the IEPA negotiations with Papua New Guinea and Fiji shows that the EU has a strong interest in continuing to maintain close, high-level economic relations with the Pacific states; hopes that this IEPA – now limited to two countries – may pave the way for a broader agreement that includes other countries in the Pacific area;

3.  Stresses that the IEPA is aimed at keeping the market open for exports from Papua New Guinea and the Republic of the Fiji Islands and allowing negotiations on a comprehensive EPA if so desired by the states concerned;

4.  Points out that Papua New Guinea and the Republic of the Fiji Islands – the two Pacific ACP countries with any significant exports to the EU – are the only members of the Pacific regional grouping to have entered into the agreement so far, with other members of that grouping choosing not to sign because of their lower levels of trade in goods with the EU;

5.  Recalls that, whilst the IEPA can be regarded as a first step in the process, in legal terms it is a completely independent international agreement that may not automatically lead either to a full EPA or to all the initial signatories of the IEPA signing the full EPA;

6.  Reminds the EU institutions and governments that neither the conclusion nor the renunciation of an EPA should lead to a situation in which an ACP country finds itself in a position less favourable than the one it was in under the trade provisions of the Cotonou Agreement;

7.  Stresses that Parliament's possible consent to an IEPA does not predetermine its position on consent to a comprehensive EPA, since the conclusion procedure relates to two different international agreements;

8.  Recalls that a genuine regional market is an essential basis for successfully implementing the IEPA – and, similarly, any future full EPA – and that regional integration and cooperation are essential for the social and economic development of the Pacific states; believes that this must be taken into account in the context of implementation;

9.  Stresses that the purpose of the specific provisions on rules of origin for fisheries products is to develop onshore fish processing capacity in the ACP Pacific states, so as to generate local employment and income;

10.  Points out that the interim EPA has paved the way for the development in Papua New Guinea of industrial projects such as the Pacific Marine Industrial Zone in Madang, which is expected to produce more than 400 000 tonnes of canned tuna over two years;

11.  Is concerned and alarmed, in this context, by measures such as the Papua New Guinea authorities' recent review of environmental legislation, which in practice waives the requirement to submit environmental reports for such projects and hinders the claims process;

12.  Highlights the importance of the fisheries industry as a primary source of employment for women in the Pacific region; believes that the Commission should provide technical, political and financial assistance in order to improve employment opportunities for women in the Pacific states;

13.  Notes with concern that WCPFC data show that third countries have increased their fishing capacity in these Pacific waters, and that there is therefore a risk of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and over-fishing, which are not conducive to the sustainable development of the local fisheries industry;

14.  Stresses that even though Papua New Guinea and Fiji have limited fishing capacity and therefore a limited supply of wholly obtained fish and limited on-land processing capacity, the derogation from the rules of origin for processed fishery products, which is being actively used by Papua New Guinea, has turned that country into a genuine hub for the processing of huge quantities of tuna from a variety of sources (including the Philippines, Thailand, China, the United States and Australia); draws attention to the fact that the derogation from the rules of origin may have a destabilising effect on the EU's fish processing and canning industry;

15.  Calls on the Commission to present to Parliament as soon as possible a report on these specific aspects of the Pacific states' fisheries sector and on the management of fish stocks in the Pacific, including sustainable development practices; calls on the Commission to initiate without delay the consultations provided for in Article 6(6)(d) of Protocol II annexed to the IEPA, and to enact the suspension of the exceptional arrangements regarding the rules of origin in the event that the assessment report demonstrates a destabilising effect on the EU's fish processing and canning industry;

16.  Points out that such a report on the implementation of the special rules of origin must be prepared in the course of 2011, i.e. three years after notification to Papua New Guinea of the adoption of the rules in Regulation (EC) No 1528/2007, and that it should look at the economic, social and environmental impact of the global sourcing derogation on the population of Papua New Guinea, particularly coastal communities; in that connection, asks for immediate information about the terms of reference of this report and as to whether all stakeholders and affected parties, including civil society organisations in Papua New Guinea, will be consulted in the run-up to the report;

17.  Encourages Fiji to take on board the recommendations of the international community and to implement good governance practices; believes that such steps should result in the release of financial assistance for the sugar sector in Fiji; recognises that this money is badly needed in order to support the sugar sector, which is a key source of employment in Fiji;

18.  Stresses that any regional EPA should be made contingent on approval by all the relevant political groupings in the Republic of the Fiji Islands of a roadmap to democratic elections;

19.  Recommends a flexible, asymmetric and pragmatic approach to the ongoing negotiations on a comprehensive EPA; insists upon the inclusion of a development cooperation chapter in the comprehensive EPA;

20.  Points out that the agreement may also have implications for relations between the Pacific region and its closest and largest trading partners, Australia and New Zealand, and that it must be ensured that the stipulations of the current agreement do not act as an impediment to future trade agreements with those countries;

21.  Recalls that the EPA must be supportive of the development objectives, policies and priorities of the Pacific states, not only in its structure and content, but also in the manner and spirit of its implementation;

22.  Recalls the adoption, in October 2007, of the EU Strategy on Aid for Trade, with a commitment to increase collective EU trade-related assistance to EUR 2 billion annually by 2010 (EUR 1 billion from the Community, and EUR 1 billion from the Member States); insists that the Pacific region receive an appropriate and equitable share of this assistance;

23.  Calls for early determination and provision of the Pacific region's share of the Aid for Trade resources; stresses that these funds should be additional resources, and not merely a repackaging of EDF funding, that they should be in keeping with the priorities of Papua New Guinea and the Republic of the Fiji Islands, as well as those of the wider Pacific region, and that their disbursement should be timely, predictable and in line with the execution schedules of national and regional strategic development plans;

24.  Calls on the Commission, in view of the commitments made by the Council in September 2007 in connection with the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS) Agreement and access to medicines, not to negotiate pharmaceutical-related TRIPS-plus provisions affecting public health and access to medicines in the EPA, to refrain from requesting adherence to or acceptance of the obligations of the Patent Cooperation Treaty and the Patent Law Treaty, to refrain from incorporating the terms of Directive 2004/48/EC(14), and not to introduce disciplines such as non-original database protection into the EPA;

25.  Expresses its continued support for a comprehensive EPA between the EU and the Pacific states; agrees that the key issues that must be negotiated include:

   (a) intellectual property rights, encompassing traditional knowledge as well as western technological artefacts;
   (b) transparency of government procurement, with openness to EU contractors triggered at a point appropriate to the needs of the Pacific states;
   (c) working visas, which must be made available to Pacific Island nationals for periods of at least 24 months to enable them to work as ‘carers’ or in similar professions;

26.  Requests, nevertheless, that the Commission continue to work for a more comprehensive agreement and to seek possible alternatives that are accessible and viable and which guarantee market access in accordance with WTO rules, making creative use of all the flexibility available under those rules, including waivers, for those countries not wishing to commit to one or both of the IEPA and the full EPA;

27.  Takes the view that, under the comprehensive EPA, a parliamentary committee should be established to monitor the implementation of the agreement, and that the composition of this committee on the EP side should be in line with that of the Cariforum-EU Joint Parliamentary Committee;

28.  Stresses that both the IEPA and the comprehensive EPA should incorporate a review clause envisaging an independent global impact assessment that includes the economic, social and environmental impact and the costs and consequences of implementation, which should be carried out within three to five years of the signature of the agreement; stresses that the review clause of the IEPA – and, subsequently, that of the EPA – should contain the provision that all signatories are entitled to invoke it on the basis of the aforementioned impact assessment; requests that the European Parliament and the parliaments of the Pacific states be involved in any review of the agreement;

29.  Supports, in this context, the Commission's commitment to ensuring that this blanket derogation from the rules of origin is the exception rather than the rule in future EPAs;

30.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States and of the ACP countries, the ACP-EU Council and the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly.

(1) OJ C 77 E, 26.3.2004, p. 393.
(2) OJ C 92 E, 20.4.2006, p. 397.
(3) OJ C 285 E, 22.11.2006, p.126.
(4) OJ C 292 E, 1.12.2006, p. 121.
(5) OJ C 293 E, 2.12.2006, p. 155.
(6) OJ C 298 E, 8.12.2006, p. 261.
(7) OJ C 305 E, 14.12.2006, p. 244.
(8) OJ C 102 E, 24.4.2008, p. 301.
(9) OJ C 323 E, 18.12.2008, p. 361.
(10) OJ C 285 E, 26.11.2009, p. 126.
(11) OJ C 117 E, 6.5.2010, p. 118.
(12) OJ L 348, 31.12.2007, p. 1.
(13) OJ C 317 E, 23.12.2006, p. 898.
(14) OJ L 157, 30.4.2004, p. 45.

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