The EU can do several things to make the Economic Partnership Agreements more fair, so that they actually contribute to poverty eradication and development.
Enhance policy freedom
- All elements that are not required to make the EPAs WTO compatible should be taken out of the EPAs. This requires a review of the current provisions on export taxes, and the Most Favoured Nation and rules of origin clauses.
- EPAs must ensure that ACP regional groups have maximum flexibility over their own market opening. The EU should therefore offer all ACP regional groups an unconditional period of 20 years or more for market opening and link this to development benchmarks instead of a fixed timeframe.
- The EU should cut subsidies on products competing with local products, especially in agriculture. As long as the EU subsidises its sectors, ACP countries should not be asked to liberalise tariffs on products that have to compete with EU products.
Enable safeguard mechanism
- There should be an effective safeguard mechanism for ACP countries to use if faced with a surge of subsidised EU imports.
Stimulate regional integration
- The EU should stimulate regional integration in all ACP regions by acknowledging differences between countries in economic and social terms. Enough policy space should be provided, and negotiation mandates of iEPAs and EPAs should be the same.
Introduce a review mechanism
- A review mechanism for EPAs - with full ACP regional group ownership and participation - should be introduced to ensure the EPAs are delivering the intended developmental benefits.
Provide alternatives to the EPA
- The Commission should be ready to provide an alternative to an EPA at the request of any ACP country. Any alternative offered should provide no worse market access to the EU than is currently enjoyed under Cotonou preferences.