Blueprint for negotiations: EU-ACP Economic Partnership Agreements
Today two Decisions, dated 19 December 2019, were published in the Official Journal. The first is addressed to the Commission, and provides a lengthy description of how negotiations should be framed and what the aims of the EU-ACP agreements should be. The second decision authorises the Commission to negotiate on behalf of the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States based on those negotiating lines.
The amended negotiating position generally sets out that EPA’s should be deepened and account should be taken during negotiations of the different development levels and constraints of ACP countries.
The comprehensive decision includes a wide range of updated topics:
- a section on trade in services, investment and digital trade, for which negotiations should cover digital trade including cross, border data flows, aim at liberalisation, comparable market access opportunities, improve conditions and encourage MSMEs in the market;
- A section on imports into the EU, for which negotiations should be on fixing tariff dismantling, taking into account the interests of the ACP and impact on the integration of the ACP;
- A section on imports into the ACP, which should aim at abolishing charges of equivalent effects to customs duties, eliminating customs duties for substantially all trade, and removal of quantitative restrictions and measures with equivalent effect on the application of EPAs, no less favourable than MFN treatment, etc.;
- And a section on trade in goods which should aim at free trade and build on what has formerly been negotiated.
There are also provisions on the negotiations on rules of origin, general provisions including export duty elimination and others, and for circumstances in which the ACP is suffering economic, social and environmental constraints, to justify postponement of negotiations. Negotiations should also be extensive on fostering investment and investment protection, technical barriers to trade, and sanitary and phytosanitary standards.
Access to the Decisions is available here: Decision 2012/13 and 2012/14. See also a press release from the European Economic and Social Committee dated 12 December 2019 on the shift from aid to trade and investment relations after the Cotonou Agreement expires on 29 February 2020.