What’s the problem?
For the past ten years, the EU has been pushing African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries to sign free trade agreements, known as Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs). Because of serious development concerns the majority of ACP countries have refused to sign an EPA - only 10 African nations have signed. ACP countries are concerned that locking themselves into free trade will do damage to their economies, to small-scale farmers, food security and the environment.
But now the European Commission is piling on the pressure. They are threatening to cut off the preferential market access of ACP countries that don't sign and ratify EPAs. 18 developing countries could be hugely negatively impacted, including Namibia, Botswana, Kenya and Cameroon.
The good news is that resistance is building. The EU Commission's proposal has been rejected by both the DEVELOPMENT and the TRADE Committee of the European Parliament.
A crucial vote will take place in the EU parliament the week of 10th September. Across Europe people are asking their MEPs to stand up for trade justice and vote to reject the European Commissions unfair ultimatum.
Please write to, email, call or visit your MEP before 12th September, and ask them to vote against the Commission’s proposal. Let your MEP know we don’t want developing countries to be bullied, and Europe must change its approach to global trade to respect developing countries' right to choose their own economic path.
We’ve developed a template letter along with more information and important quotes and facts from affected countries to help you do this. Please download it here.
Not sure who your MEPs are? Click here to see a list and map of Ireland's MEPs.
ACP leaders have strongly criticised this proposal and called on EU governments to reject it. In May ACP Secretary General, Dr Mohamed Ibn Chamba said “it is a matter of regret that the EU has imposed such a unilateral deadline which seems in opposition to the letter and very spirit of our time-tested relationship.” No country should be forced into signing a trade agreement they are unhappy with – that’s why Comhlámh is taking action against the EPA ultimatum – and we need your help.
The action of campaigners like you has made a big difference and helped developing countries to stay strong. Take Action Now!
Comhlámh has campaigned against EPAs for years, with the support of campaigners like you. It’s vital that we continue to show European policy-makers that campaigners around the world stand in solidarity with ACP countries against this latest ultimatum.
Want to learn more about this topic?
In our new policy report, Southern Alternatives to EU Trade Policy, 3 papers illustrate how EPAs are a key obstacle to Africa's economic development and attempts to eradicate poverty. Also check out our video and hear from activists from the Global South about their vision of alternative trade policy.
For more information on EPAS, also see
What's Ireland's position on EPAs?
Ireland is one of the countries in Europe which takes a progressive stand on EPAs, regularly speaking up to raise the concerns of developing countries about these trade deals, and to call for more flexibility. This would not have happened without public pressure from campaigners voicing their concern to policy-makers and their political representatives. However, disappointingly, the Irish government has supported this proposal to cut off countries market access, in spite of people in many ACP countries, including Irish Aid Priority Countries, calling for it to be rejected. The good news is, many TDs asked important questions about EPAs in the Dáil when this proposal was put to Committee a few months ago. To learn more about this hearing see here.
Check out this short video on why we are campaigning for Alternatives to EU trade policy