Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Letter from Ireland, Netherlands and Denmark

Letter seeking Justice for ACP

Rt. Hon. Baroness Ashton
Commissioner for Trade at the
European Commission
BRUSSELS

The Hague, November 7, 2008


Dear Baroness Ashton,

We would like to take this opportunity to congratulate you on your appointment and we look forward to welcoming you personally at next week’s Development General Affairs and External Relations Council.

As you will be aware, negotiations between the EU and ACP countries on the Economic Partnership Agreements are at a critical stage. We welcome the comments you made at the recent European Parliament hearing, and particularly your commitment to giving a different character to ongoing regional negotiations.

By concluding interim agreements focussing on the trade in goods at the end of 2007, we were able to avoid trade disruption for most of the ACP countries concerned. However, as we are sure you will agree, we have much to do to ensure that EPAs genuinely live up to the goals formulated in the Cotonou Partnership Agreement. We therefore need to ensure that EPAs will actively support regional integration and contribute to a regulatory framework that will stimulate economic development.

If we are to succeed in this, we must be prepared to show more flexibility towards the countries and regions concerned in the next rounds of negotiations. In May of this year, the European Council already underlined how important it is to take a flexible approach to the transition from interim agreements to regional Economic Partnership Agreements and called on the Commission to make full use of the flexibility and asymmetry permissible under current WTO law so as to reflect the different development levels and development needs of the ACP countries and regions. Judging by the vast majority of reactions received from the

To demonstrate our commitment to building trust and confidence with our ACP partners, we believe that the EU should build on the dialogue that has already begun over the past year by responding positively to the specific ACP proposal for an EPA meeting at joint ministerial level. An informal ministerial meeting in the near future would underpin the ‘new approach’ that you have eloquently referred to in the European Parliament and could bring a new political impetus to the ongoing negotiations.

We are sure that, with a renewed political emphasis and stronger efforts at the technical level to address the issues highlighted above, the negotiations can be brought to a conclusion that is conducive to development. Again, we look forward to meeting you in person at the development GAERC next week when there will be an opportunity to discuss EPAs further. We would be very interested to hear your views on the topics outlined above and look forward to a fruitful exchange of views.

Yours sincerely,

Ms Ulla Tørnæs
Minister for Development Cooperation
Denmark

Peter Power T.D.
Minister of State for Overseas Development,
Department of Foreign Affairs
Ireland.

Bert Koenders
Minister for Development Cooperation
Kingdom of The Netherlands

Source: OXFAM

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