Which Way Forward in EPA Negotiations? Seeking Political Leadership to Address Bottlenecks
Fourteen years after the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) concept was initially proposed and eight years after the start of the negotiations of EPAs between the Europe Union (EU) and the 77 Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, only 36 ACP countries have 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. In a paradoxical way, EPAs, which should have strengthened and anchored the economic relationship of many ACP with the EU, seem to have had an opposite effect with several ACP, which 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, which may have deeper negative repercussions on the EU-Africa relations, including beyond trade and economic considerations.