IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Trade Civil Society Dialogue Get Update on EU Trade Policies
The Trade Civil Society dialogue of EaP was held with the WG 2 coordinators and several other members of the WG 2 on 24 November 2010. The dialogue is a regular platform used by the EU Directorates Generale of Trade (DG Trade) to inform the civil society organizations about the recent developments in EU trade policy and to discuss with the stakeholders their comments and remarks.
The participants from EU organizations and civil society representatives from EaP countries listened to the information from DG Trade directors about the present state of negotiations on the Association agreements and the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreements (DCFTA) between EU and EaP countries. The most advanced negotiations are with Ukraine but there is a chance that they could be terminated by the end of next year. Then the ratification period would start and the perspective of DCFTA entering into force is for 2014.
The DCFTA is really far reaching and its conclusion means that the partner country adopts up to 95 % of EU legislation (compared to ordinary FTA which represents 40 – 60 %).
There was a hot debate about the cost of transposition of EU legislation on enterprises and citizens. The EU stressed that the partner countries would have to make the reforms in any case and the EU is proposing a well-functioning model to them. The return of the costs will be several times higher in the form of increased growth, employment, income and investments. The EU will provide support and assistance but it cannot compensate the costs.
There was also a long debate about Georgia and the start of DCFTA negotiations. The EC presented to Georgian government key recommendations that should be answered so that the negotiations can start. Georgia is arguing that it already opened its market by dropping the import tarifs. The EU replied that this was Georgiaˇs unilateral step. The Commission sent to Georgia the detailed and concrete list of steps that must be done to start the negotiations.
As far as Azerbaidjan and Belarus are concerned, the DCFTA cannot start before these two countries become WTO members. In case of Azerbaidjan, there are talks about review of its FTA which was part of the PCA. Moldova has made great steps forward and is now ready to start the DCFTA negotiations. Screening is being done with Armenia.
WG 2 coordinators Mr. Gogolashvili and Mr. Voles presented to the meeting the recommendations of the WG 2 adopted at the Berlin CSF meeting. They stressed the need to invite the representative of the CSF to attend all meetings of the Thematic platform 2 and its panels. DG Trade repeated its position that the CSF experts can attend on ad hoc basis and CSF is represented at the SME panel.