When negotiations for EPAs started in 2002, civil society across ACP states and in Europe got organised and launched a campaign to ‘Stop EPAs’.The concerns with the proposed agreements included the predicted impacts on agriculture, industry and jobs – as countries would be forced to compete with European imports – as well as the ways in which EPAs would constrain governments from regulating their economies in the interest of development and poverty reduction. In addition, civil society and governments have been concerned that EPAs would deprive ACP countries of important tax income, without any guarantees that these losses would be compensated through alternative revenue streams.The EU has argued that the gap in revenue can be filled through aid in the short term, yet there are no guarantees that additional finance will be made available in a way that does not divert resources away from other important development programmes. Most worryingly, governments would be sacrificing a sustainable source of finance that can be generated year on year, for an increased dependency on EU development assistance that is likely to be short term if it even materialises. When EPA campaigners in Europe have raised this issue with European governments and in the European Parliament, it has been met with concern, as even those who believe in the benefits of free trade agreements tend to recognise that countries need sustainable tax income. Highlighting this issue has been one entry point for getting decision-makers to listen to the broader concerns about EPAs.

Reference no.45