Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) are trade agreements which are being negotiated between the EU and six regional groups of ACP countries. EPAs are intended to promote sustainable development and poverty reduction by enabling the further economic integration of ACP countries, regionally, with the EU, and with the world economy more widely.The process of negotiating EPAs began in 2002, with the Council providing the Commission with a mandate to negotiate on behalf of the EU.2 A first stage of negotiations was between the EU and all the ACP countries. A second stage of negotiations has been proceeding between the EU and each of the six regions, concerning in particular questions of regional integration. A third stage, which commenced in late 2005 and early 2006, is between each of the regions and the EU, and relates to questions of market access. No EPAs have been agreed as yet, but they are scheduled to be concluded by the end of 2007.