Brussels, 26 February 2010
Progresses in the negotiation between the EU i and Central American region bring us closer to a conclusion of the association agreement in Madrid in May
The European Union represented by the European Commission and the Central American region (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama as observer) concluded an intense week of negotiations for an Association Agreement between both regions. The discussions, addressing simultaneously the three pillars of the Agreement (political dialogue, cooperation and trade), made significant progresses, thus confirming the objective of a conclusion of the Agreement in during the EU LAC summit in Madrid in May 2010.
In the political dialogue and cooperation pillars, the parties were able to agree on articles covering the situation of indigenous peoples, the fight against terrorism, the protection of the environment and climate change, energy and transport. They also agreed on a clause enabling to enlarge the scope of the cooperation between regions on other themes not covered by the Agreement.
Extensive exchanges of views took place on the few remaining open issues of migration, good governance in the tax area and cross cutting provision where the negotiators now have a clear understanding of each other’s positions. The issue of the creation of a fund to address asymmetries in development in Central America will be the subject of technical discussions in March
On the trade pillar, a constructive session took place and agreement was reached on provisions such as trade and competition and the rules on public procurement. In all other areas such as market access, rules of origin, services and establishment, IPR, geographical indications, significant progress has been achieved. Nevertheless, substantial work is still required in various areas with a view to reach the objective of concluding before the EU-LAC Summit in May.
In the margins of the negotiations, meetings were held with the representatives of the civil society and business organizations.
Panama, who recently applied to join the negotiation, was enabled by consensus of the parties to make its voice heard during the talks. The procedures relating to its application are ongoing in both the EU and Central American region with good perspective for a positive conclusion during the month of March.
The bi-regional negotiations will continue in the weeks to come with intense informal contacts between negotiators and a meeting on trade issues taking place in the week of 22- 26 March, in Brussels. A final round of negotiation is scheduled on 19-23 April for the trade pillar and 26-30 of April for the political and cooperation part with a view to a conclusion of the Association Agreement during the EU/LAC summit in Madrid on 18 May.