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Economic Partnership Agreements: A 'historic step' towards a 'partnership of equals'?


This article argues that the EPAs initialled between the EU and less than half of the ACP countries do not represent a 'historic step' in EU-ACP relations, but are the outcome of asymmetric power relations. Many ACP countries submitted hastily drawn up liberalisation schedules that did not consider whether their commitments were in line with those of their neighbours — with significant implications for regional integration processes. Further, the enforcement of EPAs is unlikely in some cases, given the decreasing attractiveness of the EU market and the Commission's dwindling capacity to sanction non-compliance by withdrawing preferences. If the EU wants to see EPAs implemented, it is vital that the process and outcome are owned and supported by both sides.

Mareike Meyn