Memorandum to the European Commission from 30 000 citizens at the World Social Forum

Third World Network Africa | 2/8/2007

Memorandum to the European Commission (EC) at WSF 2007, Nairobi

From: 30 000 citizens at the World Social Forum, Nairobi on January 24th 2007

We the people attending the World Social Forum (WSF) are here today to call on the European Commission to stop negotiating Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA’s) with our governments.

We are deeply concerned that these proposed free trade agreements will exacerbate the current agricultural crisis that farmers already face, increase poverty and violate human rights.

We believe that although a partnership with the European Union (EU) is desirable, the basis of this proposed partnership neither ensures the protection of the rights of citizens or the sovereignty of state, nor does it respect the provision set forth in the Cotonou Agreement that no country should be worse off as a result of such a partnership. The principle of reciprocity itself undermines this provision. Especially a reciprocity that will lead to:
- Increased competition from subsidised EU agricultural commodities that decimate farmers’ livelihoods
- Chronic food insecurity and unemployment
- Major economic instability as a result of the elimination of tariff and duty barriers
- Significant welfare losses, particularly in the purchasing power of consumers and the provision of basic social services from governments that have lost crucial state revenues
- Weakened regional integration process and the reversal of those gains achieved so far
- Undermined development objectives of African countries and the sovereignty of peoples and states
- Reduction of the political space to devise pro-poor economic policies

The argument that the new partnership with the EU must be in compliance with WTO rules does not require that this partnership be based on reciprocity. There are other options that would not require reciprocity (free trade) with the EU, but these are being ignored by you, the EC. Regardless of the alternative that is favoured within the framework of an EU-ACP partnership, the minimum for such a partnership is to be beneficial and not leave any country worse off than it currently is. We thus call for an EU-ACP partnership that will:
- Protect ACP producers in domestic and regional markets
- Be based on the principle of non-reciprocity, as instituted in the Generalised System of Preferences and special and differential treatment in the WTO;
- Reverse the pressure for trade and investment liberalisation; and
- Allow for the necessary policy space and support for ACP countries to pursue their own development strategies.
- Protect and enable the fulfilment of all human rights

Given that the EPAs do not take any of these concerns into consideration, and do not meet the development needs of ACP countries, we reiterate our call to stop the EPAs.

source: TWN Africa