On 7th December, Yentyl Williams, ACP YPN Founder and President and EU-ACP Trade expert, presented on “Labour and Social provisions in the Economic Partnership Agreements’ at the SOLIDAR Progressive lab for Sustainable Development.

Yentyl gave an overview of the social and labour standards in the EU-ACP EPAs. She noted that labour provisions vary widely across the agreements from the EU-ECOWAS EPA, which has a standard clause in relation to prison labour to the Cariforum-EU EPA, which directly transposes Article 50 Cotonou on ‘Trade and Labour standards’. Yentyl made the preliminary conclusion that the lack of linkages between labour issues with sustainable development and social in the newer African EPAs can be regarded as a missed opportunity. In contrast, there is much more coverage of social provisions throughout the EPA texts, however the Cariforum-EU EPA remains the most ambitious vis-à-vis labour and social provisions of all the EPA texts.

Yentyl also presented an alaysis of the EPA provisions’ compatibility with the Cotonou Agreement. She stated that “The legacy of Cotonou leaves much room for improvement, especially with regards to civil society participation”. She gave the example of the ACP Civil Society Forum that was established in 2001 and the forthcoming ACP Civil Society Road map. She also gave insight to the functioning of the Joint Consultative Committees (JCC) based on her experience as observer to the EU-Cariforum JCC. Yentyl summarised that CSO provisions differ IN EPAs and (ACROSS EU trade agreements due to ‘ACP exceptionalism.’

This presentation was the first part of a two-step review process whereby the final publication of Yentyl’s article as part of SOLIDARS’ Progressive Lab for Sustainable Development is expected in March 2017.

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