Civil society meetings in EU trade agreements: Recommendations and lessons for EPAs
The conclusion, signing and ratification process of three new Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) between the European Union (EU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Eastern African Community (EAC) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), has reopened the debate on EPAs, including in the European Parliament. Within the EU, it has increasingly been recognised that civil society should be involved in the discussion and monitoring of trade agreements, in particular when it comes to the sustainable development dimension. However, civil society provisions in the EPAs differ significantly from those in other recent trade agreements concluded by the EU, and in the case of the EU-SADC EPA they are non-existent. This is surprising since the EU-CARIFORUM EPA does have experience with civil society meetings and civil society organisations (CSOs) have strongly contested the African EPAs.