Procedure : 2008/0139(NLE)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A7-0190/2013

Texts tabled :

A7-0190/2013

Debates :

PV 13/06/2013 - 2
CRE 13/06/2013 - 2

Votes :

PV 13/06/2013 - 7.1

Texts adopted :

P7_TA(2013)0272

RECOMMENDATION     ***
PDF 166kWORD 100k
3 June 2013
PE 506.131v02-00 A7-0190/2013

on the draft Council decision concluding the interim agreement with a view to an Economic Partnership Agreement between the European Community and its Member States, of the one part, and the Central Africa Party, of the other part

(14757/2012 – C7-0369/2012 – 2008/0139(NLE))

Committee on International Trade

Rapporteur: David Martin

DRAFT EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION
 EXPLANATORY STATEMENT
 OPINION of the Committee on Development
 RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

DRAFT EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION

on the draft Council decision concluding the interim agreement with a view to an Economic Partnership Agreement between the European Community and its Member States, of the one part, and the Central Africa Party, of the other part

(14757/2012 – C7-0369/2012 – 2008/0139(NLE))

(Consent)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (14757/2012),

–  having regard to the draft Interim Agreement with a view to an Economic Partnership Agreement between the European Community and its Member States, of the one part, and the Central Africa Party, of the other part (13485/2011),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Article 207, Article 211 and Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a), of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C7-0369/2012),

–  having regard to Rules 81 and 90(7) of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the recommendation of the Committee on International Trade and the opinion of the Committee on Development (A7-0190/2013),

1.  Consents to conclusion of the agreement;

2.  Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Member States and of the Republic of Cameroon.


EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

Preferential access to the European market did not translate into sustainable growth and sufficient integration of African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group of countries into the world economy. Furthermore, unilateral trade preferences granted by the EU were incompatible with the principle of non-discrimination of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

In 2007 it became evident that negotiations on new comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) initiated in 2002 by the ACP and the EU countries were unlikely to be completed by the end of the year, when the WTO waiver for the ACP-EU "Cotonou trade regime", extended to 31 December 2007, was set to expire.

A temporary solution was found in the form of "interim", "framework" and "stepping stone" EPAs. This ensured compliance with WTO rules, with an up-front application of preferential access to the EU market while negotiations on comprehensive "full EPAs" continued.

EU-Cameroon EPA

As the other seven countries of the Central African region(1) were unprepared to conclude an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union by the end of 2007, Cameroon and the EU negotiated an interim EPA. Consequently, Cameroon was added to the list of countries benefiting from the duty-free, quota-free access to the EU, established by Council Regulation (EC) No 1528/2007 ("Market Access Regulation").

This allowed Cameroon to avoid trade disruption and enjoy an advance application of the EPA trade regime upon the expiry of the WTO waiver. The interim EPA permitted the leading economy in the Central Africa Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC)(2) to enjoy free access to the EU market. Nevertheless, it was conditional upon ratification of the interim EPA or the full regional agreement.

So far Cameroon has not taken necessary steps towards ratification. Your rapporteur regrets that by now neither the Agreement reached in 2007 has been implemented, nor a comprehensive regional EPA has been concluded. Your rapporteur emphasises the importance of parliamentary involvement in the EPA process, and calls upon the National Assembly of Cameroon to take a decision on ratification in due course.

Furthermore, your rapporteur underlines the need to streamline the process of inter-institutional decision making on trade agreements within the EU. In this case the Agreement that was initialled on 17 December 2007 and signed on 15-22 January 2009 was only referred to the European Parliament (EP) by the Council on 6 November 2012. Your rapporteur takes note that translation into all the official EU languages of the Market Access Annex, containing Cameroon's commitments in relation to products and tariffs, was time-consuming, but still regards such a delay unacceptable. The EP has adopted its position(3) on the interim EPA as long ago as 25 March 2009.

The underlying objectives of the Agreement include promotion of regional integration, economic cooperation and good governance in the Central African region, with its gradual integration into the global economy, supported by accompanying development cooperation measures.

The cornerstone of the Agreement is asymmetrical and gradual tariff liberalisation, providing for bilateral safeguards, including in the area of food security. Having enjoyed duty free quota free access(4) to the EU market since 2008, Cameroon has committed to liberalising 80% of its imports by 2023, excluding certain sensitive goods. Cheaper inputs, foremost in the form of European machinery imports, can help local producers move up the value chain and must not hinder future prospects for local production.

Your rapporteur underlines the importance of capacity building and trade facilitation measures, and foremost the need to help Cameroonian exporters to meet EU standards and diversify their exports. The Agreement includes chapters on trade facilitation, TBT, SPS and development cooperation. It also establishes a joint EPA Committee allowing the parties to discuss and review the issues under the Partnership as well as an EPA regional fund to finance modernisation and fiscal adjustment measures. Your rapporteur also emphasises the obligation of the Parties to further improve and simplify the rules for determining origin.

Your rapporteur highlights the non-execution clause in the Article 106 (2) of the Agreement, allowing the Parties to take appropriate measures in case of failure to fulfil obligations stemming from respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law, enshrined in the Cotonou agreement.

The EU is Cameroon's largest trading partner, accounting for 44 % of its trade flows in 2011, while Cameroon is the main EU trading partner in Central Africa. It is among the least aid-dependent countries in Sub Saharan Africa. Despite being a relatively diversified economy with a growing services sector, the country remains a commodity exporter. Improving infrastructure and business environment is essential for generation of sustainable economic growth.

Towards a comprehensive regional agreement

The interim EPA is an intermediary step towards deeper regional integration via conclusion of a fully-fledged regional agreement covering the entire Central African region. Central Africa must show a renewed political commitment for concluding negotiations on a mutually-beneficial regional deal, while both parties must take the diversity of the region and differences in the level of development into account.

Cameroon holds the key to the success of the economic integration within the heart of Africa. Your rapporteur welcomes the vision to make Cameroon an emerging economy by 2035 and urges it to assume the responsibility of becoming, together with Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, an engine for further integration within the CEMAC, making it an effective customs union.

Despite long traditions of regional integration, Central African cross-border trade volumes remain relatively small, and effective reduction of various barriers to intra-regional trade and building of energy and transport links remains an urgent priority.

Notwithstanding the prospect of joining 37 million people of CEMAC countries into a single market, it is obvious that current efforts toward integration do not suffice, and that lack of regionalisation remains a major obstacle to trade-driven development. Further integration within the wider ten-member Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS/CEEAC) with over 120 million consumers would help unlock further untapped opportunities.

Conclusion

Your rapporteur recommends giving consent to the interim Agreement, as this would send an important signal on the importance of the trade relationship to the Central African region as a whole. The interim EPA should become a powerful catalyst for deeper integration within Central Africa, bringing long-term benefits. The vision of the Continental Free Trade Area can only bear fruit if the regional groupings in Africa proceed with further integration.

(1)

The countries of the region include Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, São Tomé and Principe. All of theses countries apart from DRC and São Tomé & Príncipe are members of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC).

(2)

CEMAC is a monetary union with a supranational central bank and a common currency (CFA franc, which is pegged to the euro).

(3)

Texts adopted, P6_TA(2009)0182.

(4)

Apart from transition period for sugar until 2015.


OPINION of the Committee on Development (5.4.2013)

for the Committee on International Trade

on the draft Council decision concluding the interim agreement with a view to an Economic Partnership Agreement between the European Community and its Member States, of the one part, and the Central Africa Party, of the other part

(14757/2012 – C7-0369/2012 – 2008/0139(NLE))

Rapporteur: Judith Sargentini

SHORT JUSTIFICATION

Among the regional grouping of Central Africa States(1), only Cameroon signed an interim Economic Partnership Agreement (iEPA) with the EU on 17 December 2007. However, this agreement can only become binding and effective if the National Assembly ratifies it. This is not yet the case.

The rest of Central Africa group, with the exception of Congo (Brazzaville) and Gabon who benefit from GSP since 01.01.2008, is made up of LDCs who have quota free duty free access under Everything But Arms scheme.

Under the iEPA, Cameroon is expected to liberalise 80% of imports from the EU over 15 years. This will have a detrimental impact on local nascent industries, as the EU is more competitive. Loss of tariff revenues is another adverse impact, which will severely affect public spending.

Signing iEPA with only one country undermines the Cotonou Partnership Agreement’s principle of promoting regional integration. Furthermore, violent conflicts in the Central Africa region are recurrent and their peaceful resolution requires regional integration and economic development. For this to happen, EPAs should be complementary to regional cooperation.

The Development Committee, in its opinion on iEPA between the EU and four Eastern and Southern Africa States (Madagascar, Mauritius, the Seychelles and Zimbabwe), declined to give its consent and explicitly warned against the risk of undermining regional integration when concluding EPAs with individual ACP countries.

Cameroon and its National Assembly, local authorities and civil society need sufficient time in the iEPA negotiations, which should be concluded neither under pressure nor in haste.

We therefore invite the Commission to prolong the preferential market access deadline under Regulation No 1528/2007 and to demonstrate more flexibility in the ongoing negotiations in order to give more time for a mutually beneficial agreement, which would put the developmental and regional integration concerns into the heart of the process, to emerge.

***

The Committee on Development calls on the Committee on International Trade, as the committee responsible, to propose that Parliament give its consent.

RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

Date adopted

19.3.2013

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

17

3

4

Members present for the final vote

Thijs Berman, Michael Cashman, Ricardo Cortés Lastra, Véronique De Keyser, Nirj Deva, Leonidas Donskis, Charles Goerens, Catherine Grèze, Eva Joly, Miguel Angel Martínez Martínez, Gay Mitchell, Andreas Pitsillides, Jean Roatta, Birgit Schnieber-Jastram, Michèle Striffler, Alf Svensson, Keith Taylor, Patrice Tirolien, Anna Záborská, Iva Zanicchi

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Emer Costello, Enrique Guerrero Salom, Fiona Hall, Krzysztof Lisek

(1)

  Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo (Brazzaville), Congo - Democratic Republic of (Kinshasa), Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, São Tomé & Principe.


RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

Date adopted

28.5.2013

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

24

3

2

Members present for the final vote

William (The Earl of) Dartmouth, Maria Badia i Cutchet, David Campbell Bannerman, Daniel Caspary, María Auxiliadora Correa Zamora, Andrea Cozzolino, George Sabin Cutaş, Metin Kazak, Franziska Keller, Bernd Lange, David Martin, Vital Moreira, Paul Murphy, Cristiana Muscardini, Franck Proust, Godelieve Quisthoudt-Rowohl, Niccolò Rinaldi, Peter Šťastný, Robert Sturdy, Henri Weber, Iuliu Winkler, Jan Zahradil, Paweł Zalewski

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Catherine Bearder, Albert Deß, Elisabeth Köstinger, Mario Pirillo, Marietje Schaake, Jarosław Leszek Wałęsa

Substitute(s) under Rule 187(2) present for the final vote

Marie-Christine Vergiat

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