Thursday, 8 June 2006
Dáil Eireann Debate
123. Mr. Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if his attention has been drawn to the declaration made by the Trade Ministers of the African Union on 14 April 2006 in which they called for the pending review of the EU-ACP EPA negotiations due to take place in autumn 2006 to fully explore the alternatives to EPAs; his views on their call; the alternatives he favours; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22022/06]
Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs (Mr. C. Lenihan): I am aware of the declaration referred to by the Deputy. Many of the issues contained in it were raised by African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Ministers at the ACP-EU Council of Ministers meeting which took place at Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea on 1 and 2 June.
In response to the ACP concerns, the Union made a written declaration on Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs), which is part of the conclusions of the ACP-EU Ministerial Council, as follows: “The EPAs, as development instruments, are aiming at fostering the smooth and gradual integration of the ACP states into the world economy, especially by making full use of the potential of regional integration and South-South trade. The Commission reconfirms that the gradually arising needs from the implementation of EPAs will be taken into account in the programming dialogue with the ACP on the resources of the 10th EDF, covering the time period after the entry into force on 1 January 2008. Moreover the EU recalls its commitments to substantially increase Aid for Trade by 2010 in addition to the EDF resources.”
The review of the EPA negotiations is mandated by the Cotonou Agreement of 2000. Since trade is a Community competence, the European Commission negotiates the establishment of the EPAs on behalf of the Member States and is responsible for the preparation of the review. EU Development Ministers set out their views on what should be the content of this review at the April meeting of the General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC). The Conclusions of this meeting call on the Commission to make this review “formal and comprehensive with participation from the ACP side”.
Furthermore, the GAERC asked that the review should cover “both trade and development aspects of the EPAs, including cross-cutting issues affecting the development prospects of all ACP countries (e.g. market access and rules of origin, regulatory and safeguard provisions etc)” as well as “necessary measures to support the timely completion of the negotiations”.
I fully endorse this position. I would like to point out that the Council also called for the establishment of a monitoring mechanism to allow for effective monitoring of the development and trade challenges involved in EPAs, and to help ensure that they achieve development outcomes. I have myself underlined the importance of such a monitoring mechanism at the GAERC.
I welcome the valuable opportunity the EPA review will provide to take stock of progress to date and to address the concerns of our ACP partners. Ireland will continue to urge that the EPA negotiations result in agreements that are supportive of ACP countries’ development needs and their poverty reduction efforts.
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