131205 Action on Economic Agreement with Africa to EU Ministers of Development

The Secretariat, Antennae and member congregations have written letters to the EU Ministers of Development and Cooperation meeting in Brussels December 12th. AEFJN asked them to facilitate a political solution to the difficult situation EU measures have created in African countries by imposing them stringent conditions for the EPAs. AEFJN also asked them to support the withdrawal from the negotiations of offensive EU demands such as the high level of tariff elimination and the prohibition or limitation of export taxes. 

The letter on EPA sent to the Ministers

Minister for Development Cooperation


Dear Minister,


Re: Policy Coherence for Development – Economic Partnership Agreements


Brussels, 5 December 2013


We are writing to draw your attention to the impossible situation that the revision of Market Access Regulation 2007/1528 has put the ACP countries in. We urge you to discuss this as part of the Policy Coherence for Development item in the next Foreign Affairs Council meeting on 12 December.


The revised regulation (2013/527) will considerably reduce market access to the EU for eight ACP countries unless they ratify or provisionally apply an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) before 1 October 2014. Since they are all members of regional economic communities, including customs unions and free trade areas, any new trading arrangement with the EU will also impact directly on their regional initiatives.


However, the new deadline does not allow countries to first come to a regional agreement among their partners. The deadline imposed by Regulation 2013/527 makes it impossible to conclude regional negotiations before market access will be withdrawn.


Even if agreement would be reached today legal scrubbing and translation of the texts into the official languages of the EU will not be ready in time to allow for signature which is required before the agreements can be ratified or provisionally applied. As a result, it seems that the ACP countries find themselves ‘lost in translation’ and the only option to avoid the loss of preferences will be to ratify the unsatisfactory interim EPAs.


This would throw overboard the negotiating efforts of the past six years and would be very damaging for regional integration – a key development objective. West Africa, for instance, would now be having five different trading regimes with the EU alone.


The EU has put itself in an untenable position to push through trade deals without regard for the development consequences. This is not coherent with EU development objectives. The EU should ensure to that developing countries are allowed to choose the kind of trade agreements that best suit their development interests.


We therefore urge you to facilitate a political solution to this impossible situation that this EU measure has created and to support a high level discussion of the matter at the coming EU-Africa summit of April 2014.


We also urge you to support the withdrawal from the negotiations of offensive EU demands such as, the MFN clause, the high level of tariff elimination and the prohibition or limitation of export taxes.


Yours sincerely,



Begoña Iñarra

Executive Secretary

Africa Europe Faith and Justice Network (AEFJN)


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