Options to Address Contentious Issues in EPA Negotiations: A Question of Political Will
Eight years after the start of the negotiations of Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) between the Europe Union (EU) and the 77 Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, only 36 ACP countries have so far concluded some type of agreement and only 25 have confirmed their commitment by signing an agreement (15 of which are Caribbean). In parallel, negotiations towards final EPAs have been progressing only very slowly, when they have not been stalled.
Paradoxically, EPAs, which should have strengthened and anchored the economic relationship of many ACP with the EU, seem to have had the opposite effect: several ACP increasingly resent the EU insistence to press for domestic reforms and ambitious commitments in the comprehensive economic and trade agreements. In spite of their development objectives, EPAs have often become an issue of continued tension between the EU and Africa. It may even have deeper negative repercussions on the EU-Africa relations, including beyond trade and economic considerations.