22 de Octubre de 2007
Inicio hoy en San José, Costa Rica, de la primera ronda de negociaciones sobre política y comercio entre la UE y AC
Looking ahead to the first round of negotiations of the Association Agreement, we the Signatory organizations, come back to you with the aim of stressing several issues that disturb us at the start of negotiations. In several opportunities  we have shown our concern over the progress of the process and we have made specific recommendations.
On this occasion we would like to highlight the following:
- The need for recognition of the internal and external asymmetries.
The European Union is aware of the external and internal imbalances that exist between the EU and Central America in terms of political, social, economic and technological process, as well as in its regional integration. UNCTAD  warns "reciprocity in the free North-South trade places mainly developing countries in a situation of disadvantage.
Negotiations and Agreements must therefore be based on the principle of asymmetry and flexible and differential treatment.
We raise the following questions:
- How the EU will, through the trade agreement with Central America recognize the differing levels of development between Central America and Europe?
- How the EU Agreement will base the agreement on the principle of asymmetry, not only in respect to trade in goods and services, but also when considering all topics included in the agenda of the negotiations?
- How the EU will take into account the differing levels of development within Central America?
- How the EU will ensure a flexible and differentiated treatment in the region, regarding the substance and the level of commitments and the length of transition periods that may exceed 10 years under the exceptions under article XXIV of GATT?
- The need for a Sustainability Impact Assessment for the start of negotiations.
We believe that the Sustainability Impact Assessment (SIA) is potentially an important instrument for the identification and prevention of the negative impacts of the Partnership Agreement and to ensure policy coherence for development.
The European Commissioner for Trade, Mr. Peter Mandelson, has expressed clearly the Commission´s commitment to improving the planning of SIAs "... SIAs are to be completed once the member states approve the Directives ".
Despite the commitment of the Commission to the European Parliament, and that Negotiating Directives were adopted on April 23, 2007, it was not until October 3rd, that the bid for the study has been published, which means a delay of half a year.
We find this delay unacceptable; we believe that the SIA should be used in the negotiations and not as an academic exercise post negotiation, as has been the case in some previous negotiations.
We raise the following questions:
- What steps are being taken by the EC to promote the realization of the SIA as soon as possible, ensuring the required quality of study?
- How the EU guarantees that the results of the SIA will be taken into account during the negotiations of the trade agreement?
- How the EU will ensure that Central American and European civil society are sufficiently consulted during each of the different phases of the study?
- Why the EC began negotiations on a trade agreement without the results of an impact study?
- The need for transparency and timely access to information.
The lack of transparency and timely access to official information by civil society has been identified as a crucial issue in the follow-up to relations between both regions. The transparency of the process and broad access to the information, to the whole civil society, must be an essential component of negotiations.
Moreover, we believe that the various rounds of negotiations are an opportunity to promote public awareness and concern about the negotiations and to consult with the stakeholders, as is the practice in multilateral processes.
We raise the following questions:
- What measures will the EC take to ensure free access and adequate time to consider the information relevant for civil society organisations?
- Could the EC promote a centralized mechanism for access to and dissemination of information, and timely availability of the agendas of meetings?
- As we asked previously, what measures will the Commission take to inform civil society actors on the results of each round of negotiations?
- How will the Commission ensure that the level of transparency during the negotiations will be at least equivalent to the level achieved in (WTO)multilateral negotiations?
- Issues concerning modalities of negotiation.
On June 29th in Brussels the framework of a high-level meeting defined the modalities of negotiation between the two blocs. Comparing patterns for negotiations with EUAndean Community (EU-CAN) and EU-Central America (UE-CA)  we emerge with the following questions:
- For the EU-CAN negotiations a sub-group was established negotiating asymmetries and special and differential treatment. Why has the EU not included a similar subgroup for the EU-CA negotiations?
- The EU-CAN negotiations identified two subgroups on access to markets for agricultural and non-agricultural sectors. Why has only one subgroup been established of negotiation for both sectors with Central America?
- To EU-CAN negotiations provides that the texts of negotiations must be in two languages (Spanish, English). How will the EC ensure that the texts of negotiations on the trade agreement with Central America will be in the same two languages?
Finally, the Commissioner Peter Mandelson has proposed to establish a forum for Sustainable development for all bilateral negotiations with the EU. We wonder when such a forum for negotiations will be installed and what will be the modalities for the participation of civil society?
While waiting for an answer to our questions, we are available for deeper explanations you might consider necessary related with our concerns presented above.
ALOP, Amigos de la Tierra Europa/Friends of the Earth Europe, APRODEV, CIFCA, SOUTH GROUP, OXFAM International.
Mr. Joao Aguiar Machado, Deputy Director General, Latin America and Asia DG Relex, European Commission Mr. Rupert SCHLEGELMILCH, Chairman of United, trade relations with America DG Trade, European Commission Ministers and Foreign Ministers of member states of the European Union, COLAT, AMLAT And 133 Committee of the EU Council, European Parliament.
- ®A Manifesto from European, Central American and Andean Civil Society organizations on the Future Negotiations of the Association Agreements, May 2006. See on:
http://www.aprodev.net/pica/Documentos.htm An Europea Union and Central America association agreement oriented towards human development is possible, October 2006, see on: http://www.gruposur.eu.org/Un-acuerdo-de-asociacion-
Union.html Recomendaciones para las directrices de negociación de la UE para un Acuerdo de Asociación UEAmérica Central, 12 de Enero 2007. - http://www.cifca.org/contenido_documentos.php3-
Proposals by Terms of Reference for upcoming Trade SIAs on EU-CAN and EU-CA Negotiations
13 February 2007. - http://www.cifca.org/contenido_documentos.php3-
Declaración de Tegucigalpa, 5 de Marzo del 2007. ver en:
- ®2 UNCTAD, Trade and Development report, September 2007.
- ®EP, Answer given by Mr.Mandelson on behalf of the Commission,28 March 2007 en:
- ®EU-CAN, « EU-Andean Community Association Agreement negotiations modalities » 17 de July 2007.
- ®EU-CA, EU-Central America Association Agreement negotiations modalities, 29 June 2007.
Boletín informativo ALOP
Gloobalhoy nº10 - 11