For the strengthening of the Andean community: No to bilateral negotiations

Brussels, 25/11/2008

For the European side, ETUC and TUCA believe that the negotiating brief given by the Council to the Commission does not provide for this possibility, for which the European Parliament would have to be consulted again. For the Andean side, the decision by Colombia and Peru breaks the bloc’s solidarity and endangers the very existence of the Andean Community.

In view of the divergences between the four countries of the Andean bloc over the content of the negotiation, the aim is to move forward unilaterally by means of a free trade agreement, repeating what occurred between these countries and the United States and sparked the present crisis of the Andean Community.

Meanwhile, the European Union, by abandoning the integral association agreement with the Andean Community (since another agreement for cooperation and political dialogue was already signed in 2003), contradicts its strategy launched at the Rio Summit in 1999 (and reiterated at the following summits) of developing political associations that strengthen integration and social cohesion processes in Latin America.

ETUC and TUCA reiterate their position in favour of strengthening the Andean Community of Nations (which is at risk of disintegration if the bloc-to-bloc negotiation collapses) and the need for the negotiations with the EU to comprise all relations between the two regions: trade based on principles of fair trade, development aspects with programmes for the remediation of asymmetries, cooperation for the strengthening of social systems and political dialogue for the consolidation of democratic institutions. In particular, ETUC and TUCA wish to stress the necessity of introducing a chapter on decent work that gives concrete form to and substantiates the application of workers’ fundamental rights, as demanded in a declaration signed by the ETUC and the Coordinating Committee of Andean Trade Unions (CCSA).

Consequently, ETUC and TUCA call on the European Commission and the institutions and governments of the Andean Community to renew the negotiations for an agreement between the two blocs and to renounce plans to conclude bilateral free trade agreements.