Legal Constraints on the EU’s Ability to Withdraw EPA Preferences under Regulation 1528/2007
On 30 September 2011 the European Commission launched its latest salvo in the negotiations of economic partnership agreements (EPAs). As reported in these pages, it issued a proposal to withdraw 18 African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries from the list of beneficiaries of preferences under Regulation 1528/2007 as of 1 January 2014.
These 18 ACP countries have been benefiting from Regulation 1528/2007 since 1 January 2008. The Regulation was intended to continue the unilateral duty free quota free market access granted to ACP countries under the Cotonou Agreement for countries that had initialled or signed interim or full Economic Partnership Agreements, pending the full implementation of these agreements as WTO consistent free trade agreements.
The Regulation foresaw that these agreements might not be ratified within a ‘reasonable period of time’. Should that occur, and should the entry into force of these agreements be ‘unduly delayed’ as a result, the EU reserved the right to remove beneficiary countries from the list (Article 2(3)(b)). The Commission’s proposal seeks to implement this right.