The European Union (EU), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the West African Economic and Monetary Union UEMOA have resolved to resume negotiations of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) as soon as possible.
Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) are a scheme to create a free trade area (FTA) between the European Union and the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP). They are a response to continuing criticism that the non-reciprocal and discriminating preferential trade agreements offered by the EU are incompatible with WTO rules.
The EPAs are a key element of the Cotonou Agreement, the latest agreement in the history of ACP-EU Development Cooperation and were supposed to take effect as of 2008, but as of March 2012 the negotiations are not yet completed. In addition, EPAs are aimed at promoting sustainable development and growth, poverty reduction, better governance and the gradual integration of ACP countries into the world economy.
ECOWAS and UEMOA also welcome the commitment of the EU and its positive contribution to the integration process in West Africa. The region, according to a joint statement issued at the weekend by the EU, ECOWAS and UEMOA, welcomes the proposal of the European Commission to double the amount of the Regional Indicative Programme of the 11th EDF.
The statement added that the region equally welcomes the commitment of the EU to support projects which will generate sustainable and inclusive growth, wealth and jobs for the benefit of 300 million West African citizens.
It further stated that the EU was committed to continuing its support for West African regional organizations in their efforts to achieve further regional integration, adding the European Commission will propose its member states to double the allocation of the Regional Indicative Programme for West Africa, which could reach 1.2 billion euros in the 11th EDF.
“The EU welcomes the adoption by the Summit of Heads of State of ECOWAS on October 25 of the Common External Tariff which makes more concrete the customs union in the region. This decision marks a major step forward in the process of West African regional integration and progress towards the conclusion of an EPA between the two parties”, the statement stressed.