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Friday, 22 October 2010

Banana trade: Commission and Right leave ACP partners in the lurch

On Tuesday morning this week, MEPs from the S&D Group accused their colleagues on the Right and the European Commission of abandoning Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) banana-producing countries during a vote within the European Parliament’s development committee on changing the financial support instrument for ACP banana producers. The financial envelope which the Commission is scheduling in order to cushion the cuts in tariff preferences for ACP countries is unsatisfactory in the face of the concessions for trade in bananas which the EU has generously granted, first to the WTO and then to certain Latin-American countries. At stake is the very survival of banana production in the few African and Caribbean countries still growing bananas. Patrice Tirolien, the MEP responsible for this report on behalf of the S&D Group, has slated the Commission’s lack of any long-term strategy in respect of banana-producing ACP countries. "We deplore the Commission’s choice, which is geared to economic diversification more than to supporting the competitiveness of ACP banana producers," asserted the MEP. "In fact, this choice will intensify socioeconomic deterioration in regions that depend entirely on banana production. To put it bluntly, the EU has left those regions in the lurch," said the angry Socialist MEP. Kader Arif, European Socialist & Democrat spokesperson on international trade and vice-president of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, denounced the hypocrisy of Europe’s Right: "At the most recent plenary session of the ACP-EU Assembly in Tenerife, all the political groups had unanimously adopted a declaration, condemning the impact of the WTO and Latin-American agreements on ACP banana producers and calling for rapid support measures to be set in train and adapted to the producers’ needs. Yet today the Right has voted against the very principle of referring to this declaration. This double-dealing is quite simply unacceptable." "Where is the consistency in the policies which the European Union is pursuing? And what consideration is there for its own development policy in support of ACP countries? There is none, and I find this deplorable," concluded Patrice Tirolien.

Source: Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists & Democrats in the European Parliament