The Economic Partnership Agreements between the EU and the ACP countries
Perhaps President Nicolas Sarkozy should listen to Mrs Christiane Taubira, MP representing Guyana in the French Parliament
On April 9th this year, in view of his forthcoming presidency of the Council of Ministers of the European Union, Mr Sarkozy addressed a letter to Mrs Christiane Taubira, MP for French Guyana in the French National Assembly, asking her for a report on the EPAs.
He writes : « It is my wish that you accept to conduct a mission, based on the assessment of the situation at the beginning of this year, for an in depth appraisal of the following aspects of the issue:
- How to clear up the misunderstandings and misgivings which some countries still have with regard to the ultimate objectives of the EPA negotiations and how to restore a relationship of trust between the EU and the ACPs in the coming months?
- What leverage is available to the EU to encourage ACPs to pursue negotiations in order to arrive at comprehensive and regionalised Economic Partnership Agreements?
- How to ensure that such agreements back up the regional integration dynamics under way and generate development?
Mrs Toubira accepted the assignment and produced her report on June 16th
The document is an important one, both with regard to its length (191 pages) and, in particular, its contents.
The report has a question as sub-title:
What if politics would finally get into issues of world-wide concern?
This is how the author – especially in the initial part - decides to widen the question. The first chapter is of particular interest:
“Food shortages and the lessons to be learnt – “a time of deep anger”
She concludes her report by giving 13 recommendations. Here are the first four:
Reconsider the terms of reference of the Commission (signed by 35 Member States out of 78)
Change the terms of reference of the Commission (to include co-operation in development)
Assurances should be provided, as a condition for the continuation of negotiations, that no misunderstandings based on linguistic ambiguity should remain. A discussion on disputed terms or expressions should be permitted on that basis.
Use the texts to which reference has been made, and in particular the 19 Directives on the Right to Food adopted in 2004 by the Member States of the United Nations, to which both EU and ACP countries belong, to work out a stricter international law on the right to food, food security and the special status of agriculture, accompanied by legal provisions and a wide legal structure.
These four recommendations are not far from the demands made by the National Farmers’ Union (La Confédération Paysanne du Faso, CPF) in their petition of 2006: “Let us change the course of action” ! (provided that the stricter international law on the right to food, if it materialises, gets closer to the right to food sovereignty).
Therefore, I believe that African farmers’ unions and NGOs, which have always been advocating a different kind of partnership agreements (instead of those drafted by the trade representatives of the Commission) have every reason to take hold of the valuable parts of this document (which, according to some, is already a source of embarassment to President Sarkozy) to exert pressure on the French Presidency so that it will apply all its recommendations. Then Mrs Taubira will have accomplished some very useful work!
Koudougou July 7th 2008
To download the report of Christiane Toubira (1.42 Mb), click here .