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EU-CAN

The European Union and the Andean Community (Comunidad Andina de Naciones or CAN) have been working towards a bilateral trade and investment pact since 1993, when they first signed a Framework Cooperation Agreement. In Rome in 2003, ten years later, they signed a joint commitment to formally enter into an Association Agreement, “including a Free Trade Agreement (FTA).” This was reaffirmed at the highest political level in Guadalajara in 2004. In May 2006, both sides agreed to initiate the negotiating process as soon as possible. The Andean Community is composed of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. (Venezuela withdrew in 2006.)

In April 2007, the EU adopted its negotiating mandate for the process. The draft is available here. Negotiations started in May 2007. Three rounds of negotiations have taken place so far. The second round was held in Brussels in December 2007 and the third in Quito in April 2008.

The fourth round was suspended in the face of opposition from the Bolivian and Ecuadoran governments, causing a great deal of tension within CAN.

Confronting this set of circumstances (cancellation of the fourth round of negotiations), Andean and European social organizations issued the following statement: “Under these conditions, we hold that it is politically unviable and economically unwise to continue the negotiations while the situation described remains in effect. The governments of Colombia and Peru must listen to the demands of their civil society organizations and of the presidents of Bolivia and Ecuador, which call for reorienting the direction, content, and conduct of the negotiations with the European Union. If the existing negotiating framework remains in place and the political situation of CAN is not given due recognition, this integration process will be further weakened, and once again the governments will be acting with disrespect for civil society and its rights”.

In the EU’s conception, the Association Agreement has three components: an FTA, a cooperation agreement, and a forum for political dialogue. However, the EU’s prime concerns are clearly the FTA and the opening of markets for European corporations (even in areas of “cooperation”).

According to GRAIN’s analysis, the objectives pursued are: reduction of taxes on foreign business activity, including import and export tariffs; opening up the country to uncontrolled trade flows; changing quality standards and technical standards; simplifying and restricting the use of sanitary and phytosanitary measures; providing unrestricted access to raw materials, especially minerals; “maximum possible protection” for intellectual property rights; opening up of all economic sectors and aspects of national life to European investment; direct or indirect privatization of all public services and government-owned corporations; obligation on the part of governments to put all procurement and contracts out to international tender; elimination of policies and programs to support and protect economic activities and domestic products.

After Bolivia and Ecuador refused to sign an FTA, the EU continued negotiations bilaterally with Peru and Colombia. In April 2011, Colombia signed onto a text with the EU and the deal with Peru is in force on a provisional basis even though both await ratification by the European Parliament. I the meantime, Ecuador, which upholds an anti-FTA position, continues having conversations with the EU towards a possible agreement.

last update: May 2012


Ecuador: Correa comes in for criticism from the Left
Ecuador’s president has ruled out a separate free trade agreement with the European Union, outside of the Andean Community trade bloc, as Peru and Colombia are seeking. However, negotiators at the Foreign Ministry say that if it is necessary to seek a free trade deal separately from the rest of the bloc, they will do so.
Europe: What trade can have to do with trade unions
The European Union has decided to push ahead with plans to secure a free trade agreement with Colombia despite the widespread abuse of labour rights in that country.
Andean indigenous reject FTA with Europe
The Andean Coordination of Indigenous Organizations (CAOI) ratified rejection of a free trade agreement that governments of Colombia and Peru want to sign with the European Union. This reiteration is contained in a letter CAOI representative Miguel Palacin addressed to Peruvian Foreign Minister Jose Garcia Belaunde, referring to the latter’s threats to expel Bolivian social leaders allegedly in Peru to take part in protests against the agreement.
Sign on: "We demand the European Union and the Governments of Peru and Colombia not to desintegrate the Andean Community of Nations (CAN)"
Sign-on declaration demanding the European Union and the Governments of Peru and Colombia not to desintegrate the Andean Community of Nations.
Indigenous resolution on the CAN-EU FTA
The Andean Community is in crisis as a result of the attitude of the European Union and the governments of Colombia and Peru, who in a meeting of foreign ministers held in Europe proposed to negotiate the FTA bilaterally, breaking with the Guayaquil Agreement, which ratified block by block negotiation. This attitude undermines Andean integration.
Bolivian union leaders to protest Peru’s FTA with European Union
This week, Bolivians are in Lima to help organize a protest against Peru and Colombia for agreeing to sign a Free-Trade Agreement with the European Union.
Divide to conquer
The constant pression exerted by the European Union on the countries of the Andean Community of Nations to reach an FTA under an Association Agreement caused that, while Peru and Colombia decided to follow that path, Ecuador and Bolivia are excluded from the negotiations, similarly to the US imposition of FTAs.
Ecuador seeks EU trade talks as neighbors move on
Ecuador wants to negotiate a trade deal with the European Union, reversing its preference for group talks a day after neighboring Colombia and Peru abandoned efforts at a regional partnership in favor of their own deals with the European bloc.
Trade talks derail between EU, Andean bloc
Talks for a trade agreement between the European Union and the Andean Community trade bloc have derailed, a top European Commission official said Tuesday.
Group negotiation with EU not dead
Presidents of Andean Community, or CAN, member countries met in Guayaquil, Ecuador, on Oct. 14 as part of an urgent effort to rescue derailed group talks for a trade agreement with the European Union. Talks stalled in June for the trade pact after the European Union agreed to negotiate the accord separately with Colombia and Peru, as both countries are governed by pro-free trade presidents, unlike the presidents of fellow CAN countries Ecuador and Bolivia.

    Links


  • Justice for Colombia
    Justice for Colombia, with the support of the UK and European trade union movement, is campaigning to stop the Free Trade Agreement between the European Union and Colombia.