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Deep concerns about the Commission's rapid concluding of free trade agreement with Peru and Colombia


02 Mar 2010

Brussels, 1/03/10

Calling the Commission's conclusion of free trade talks with Peru and Colombia "a step in a questionable direction", GUE/NGL Trade Committee coordinator Helmut Scholz today said that "the original approach of the EU to conclude trade agreements on the basis of strengthening regional cooperation is deeply damaged by such isolated free trade agreements with just two countries."

"This seriously undermines the regional integration of the Andean countries especially given Ecuador's announcement that it would step up trade negotiations, thereby encouraging regional cooperation in the interest of all people in the Andean region" Scholz said. "Ecuador and Bolivia were excluded merely because those countries have accepted requests to adapt the negotiations to their Constitutions."

"Furthermore, in rushing to conclude these negotiations with the two governments with the worst human rights record in the region, the European Commission is sending a message that it gives priority to business interests over civil liberties and democracy." 

Opposition to the quick signature of a free trade agreement with Colombia and Peru has been growing among civil society in the two countries and in Europe, both because of the content of the talks, and because of the human rights situation in those countries. According to ETUC (European Trade Union Confederation), 60% of the assassinations of trade unionists in the world take place in Colombia. Growing disappointment about inadequate consideration and incorporation of human rights clauses, ILO, environmental and good governance criteria as well as the challenges of a modern employment policy into trade agreements are also being raised in the European Parliament and beyond. 

Scholz today recalled that during his hearing at the INTA committee on the 12th of January, Commissioner Karel De Gucht promised to hold a serious dialogue with Colombia on human rights before initiating any agreement. "I hope that the European Parliament, now armed with new powers, will genuinely assume its role, taking into consideration human and social rights, and the protection of the environment before giving any green light to such agreements" Scholz added.