Protesters unite around the world against EU's unfair Free Trade Deals

Published: 27 September 2007

International Stop EPAs DAY.

27 September 2007 marks the fifth anniversary of the start of negotiations for Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) between the EU and the ACP (African, Caribbean & Pacific) countries.

Thousands of campaigners, workers, farmers and activists from across Europe, Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific will take part in coordinated events on September 27th to protest against proposed EPA. The protesters argue that free trade deals along the lines proposed by the European Union would destroy livelihoods and the environment and undermine future development and regional integration. They will be calling on national Parliaments and Governments, as well as EU institutions to abandon the draft EPAs that are now on the table.

The protesters will also demand that the European Commission (EC) stops threatening to raise import tariffs on ACP products and cut development aid to the ACP countries if they do not sign EPAs by the end of the year. They will insist that the EC ensures that ACP exports to the EU are not disrupted, and consider interim measures such as an enhanced version of the EU’s preferential market access program known as GSP+.

In ACP countries’ Governments will be urged to resist EU bullying tactics and to make sure that farmers’, workers’ and consumers’ interests are defended.

More than 200 organizations in over 40 countries will organize events in dozens of cities across the EU and ACP. Campaigners will march in Port-au-Prince, Dakar, Nairobi, and Bamako. In St Vincent activists will attend a Stop EPAs concert, and meetings with Government officials will be held simultaneously in Ouagadougou, Copenhagen, Kampala, London and many other cities. In Brussels a protest will take place in front of DG Trade offices (Charlemagne Building).

Small farmers’ organizations are mobilizing across the regions, urging Governments to defend their livelihoods and markets from unfair European competition.

Marc Maes of the Brussels-based NGO coalition 11.11.11 said: “The EU has put forward draft texts in all 6 EPAs regions. These texts, which are almost identical, have little development content but instead reflect the EU’s interests and trade approaches. They fail to fulfil the development goals the EPAs were supposed to meet.”

Tetteh Hormeku of the Third World Network Africa, based in Accra, Ghana said: “The EU’s use of pressure on ACP countries is not acceptable, nor does it make sense: imposed EPAs will definitely not reflect ACP interests and concerns.”

Bassiaka Dao, President of the Farmers Federation of Burkina Faso added: “EPA's are a risk for our food souvereignity. A free trade agreement with the EU will not only have an impact on our commercial relations, but will also limit the national policy space in the field of support policies for our agriculture. That is why we say No to EPA's in their current form.”

The organizations taking part in Stop EPA Day say that any trade deal between Europe and the ACP must be non-reciprocal and provide at least equivalent to existing market access.  They should also exclude commitments on services, investment or other trade-related issues and have simplified rules of origin.

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Contact Information

For more information, please contact:
Alexander Woollcombe (Brussles), on +32 (0) 223 11663