The Delegation,

In the light of Article 88-4 of the Constitution;

In the light of the partnership agreement between African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) States and the European Community and its Member States, called the Cotonou Agreement;

Whereas the partnership is based on the goal to reduce and eventually eradicate poverty in ACP countries and whereas, in this respect, the Millennium Development Goals, underwritten by all UN members, must underlie cooperation between the European Union and ACP countries;

Whereas this major project could be challenged by the outcome of the negotiations conducted since 2002 between the European Commission and the six regions grouping ACP countries to conclude economic partnership agreements (EPAs), which aim to substitute a free trade regime for the present trade regime based on non-reciprocal preferences granted to ACP countries. Whereas this is due to:

- A negotiation approach dominated by the concern to make trade cooperation between the partners compatible with the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO), while complying with the deadline of 31 December 2007 set by the Organization;

- Noncompliance with the fundamental principle of differentiation enshrined in Article 2 of the Cotonou Agreement, which lays down that `cooperation arrangements and priorities shall vary according to a partner's level of development, its needs, its performance and its long-term development strategy';

- The European Commission's determination to impose the opening of negotiations on topics - investment, competition and public procurement - which have been withdrawn from multilateral trade negotiations;

- A programming of aid paid from the European Development Fund (EDF) that is diverted to being mainly oriented to the roll-out of the future trade agreements;

1. Is seriously concerned by the fact that the implementation of free trade, despite the precautions currently envisaged by the European Commission, will lead to a fiscal, agricultural, industrial and balance of payments shock of such a degree for our partners that it could compromise the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, whereas Subsaharan Africa is suffering in this field from delays that are so worrisome they form a threat for international peace and stability;

2. Feels that if negotiations continue down this path, the European Union would commit a strategic, political, economic and social mistake with respect to ACP countries, which will be paid by the disintegration of an essential relationship for the construction of a safer and fairer world and for European influence to radiate and count;

3. Calls on the EU Council of Ministers, following a joint initiative by France and the United Kingdom, to rapidly give a new negotiating mandate to the European Commission based on the following principles:

- The present access regime for ACP countries to the European market must be kept, whereas the capacity of these countries to comply with the European Union's health and technical standards must be helped and strengthened;

- Trade liberalisation with the European Union must not take place until after a consolidation phase of the economic and customs unions of the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries and the setting in place, with support from the EDF, of national and regional development strategies in the fields of education, health and infrastructures, and an upgrading of their production capacity;

- The scope, steps and length of the implementation of liberalisation must be determined on the basis of compliance with economic and social criteria of development related to achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, while a follow-up and evaluation mechanism of the effects of tariff disarmament must always make it possible to go back on the phases of the latter;

- The list of sensitive products excluded from the scope of liberalisation must at least cover production essential for maintaining subsistence agricultures and the present and future industrial fabric of ACP countries;

- The negotiation of new trade related topics must not commence unless expressly called for by regions grouping ACP countries;

- The European Union must subscribe to the proposals made by ACP countries at the WTO to grant special tariff treatment to agricultural produce related to their food security, as well as to their trade preferences, and to revise Article XXIV of the GATT which frames the formation of free trade areas, in order to specify that the reciprocity required by this provision must take account of the special needs of weak and vulnerable developing countries;

4. Calls for European aid paid to ACP countries through the EDF to be earmarked, as a matter of priority, to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, as well as to the setting in place of agricultural, industrial and extractive policies ensuring the participation of the poorest strata of the population in growth. This requires on the part of our partners full compliance with the principles of good governance. Any failures to comply with these principles, which have lasted only too long, must necessarily be sanctioned.

N° 3251 - Rapport déposé par la Délégation pour l'Union européenne sur la négociation des accords de partenariat économique 

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