Friday

4th Dec 2020

EU completes trade talks with Peru and Colombia

  • Huge fishing interests in Latin America are among Spain's reasons for driving the deal forward (Photo: Commission)

The European Union has completed negotiations over controversial free trade agreements with Peru and Colombia, with member state and European Parliament approval now required.

Announcing the news on Monday (1 March), the European Commission, which negotiates on behalf of European capitals, said the deal included manufactured products, agriculture goods, services, and investment.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The agreement provides for a complete liberalisation of trade in industrial products and fisheries between the two sides, the EU executive body said in a statement.

Full ratification would see initial tariff-free trade in 80 percent of industrial products with Peru, and 65 percent with Colombia, with a timetable put in place to remove the remaining barriers.

In a nod to development NGO concerns, the EU is set to provide Peru and Colombia with aid in order to modernise their economies and take full advantage of the trade agreement. An inability to compete with foreign companies following market liberalisation is among the chief criticisms leveled by FTA opponents.

A sustainability clause is designed to ensure environmental and human rights are respected in participating countries, though NGOs are doubtful about its effectiveness.

"Its efficiency as a tool to promote human rights has not worked in the past," Andrea Maksimovic, an international co-operation co-ordinator with Solidar, a European network of NGOs, told this website.

Ms Maksimovic says intellectual property rights obligations in the deal are set to have a negative impact on the poorer Latin American economies and that Colombia's human rights record does not merit the agreement.

Opposition

The European Parliament has also voiced its concern over the high number of trade union deaths in Colombia, with the legislature's approval now needed under the Lisbon Treaty for full ratification of EU trade deals.

Colombian trade unionist killings account for roughly 60 percent of the world total, and MEPs have urged the commission to launch a formal enquiry before member states sign the bilateral agreement.

Deputies in favour of the deal say it will help to improve human rights in Colombia however, while critics say an FTA should be used as a carrot to drive improvements, and not be given away while murder rates are still high.

Following a similar debate on Sri Lanka, EU member states agreed last month to suspend trade preferences with the island nation amid accusations of government human rights abuses.

Spain, current holders of the EU's rotating presidency, has extensive business interests in South America and is pushing hard for member states to initial the agreement at an EU-Latin America summit in Madrid this May, although trade analysts question whether the timetable is achievable.

Aware of the diverging opinions on the subject, EU trade commissioner Karel De Gucht told MEPs during a January hearing that there was a need for a "political agreement" on the topic, a possible implication that extra human rights requirements could be asked of Bogota.

Senators warn Obama on EU trade competition

US senators have put pressure on the Obama administration to implement free trade agreements with South Korea and Colombia, warning of competition from the EU, which recently clinched similar deals.

Germany asks capitals to give a little in EU budget impasse

European Parliament negotiators are demanding €39bn in new funding for EU programmes such as Horizon research and Erasmus, in talks with the German EU presidency on the budget. Meanwhile, rule-of-law enforcement negotiations have only just begun.

EU budget talks suspended in fight for new funds

MEPs are requesting additional, new funding of €39bn for 15 EU programs. The German presidency argues that budget ceilings, agreed by EU leaders at a marathon summit in July, will be impossible to change without a new leaders' meeting.

EU countries stuck on rule of law-budget link

Divisions among EU governments remain between those who want to suspend EU funds if rule of law is not respected, and those who want to narrow down conditionality.

News in Brief

  1. Greek island to get new EU-backed migration camp
  2. Valéry Giscard d'Estaing dies from Covid-19 complications
  3. Belgium denied residency permits to 15,000 EU nationals
  4. Centre-right EU lawmakers want to kick out Fidesz MEP
  5. Slovak journalist's killer gets longer sentence
  6. Egyptian leader embarks on 'execution spree'
  7. Covid-19: UK first to approve Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine
  8. Car kills five people in German town's pedestrian zone

Budget deal struck, with Hungary threat still hanging

Ultimately, the European Parliament managed to squeeze an extra €16bn in total - which will be financed with competition fines the EU Commission hands out over the next seven years, plus reallocations within the budget.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!
  3. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersUN Secretary General to meet with Nordic Council on COVID-19
  5. UNESDAWell-designed Deposit Return Schemes can help reach Single-Use Plastics Directive targets
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja

Latest News

  1. EU keen to repair damage of Trump years
  2. Szájer 'sex party' coverage shows Orbán's media control
  3. EU Commission mulls ways round Hungary-Poland block
  4. Revealed: Hit to EU mental health services during Covid-19
  5. MEPs seek parliament inquiry into Frontex
  6. Erdoğan to face human rights scrutiny next week, EU says
  7. 2020 Prague European Summit: 'Real solutions, acting together'
  8. Nationwide protests reveal awakening of Poland's youth

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us