11 July 2008
Central America: Commission holds fourth round of negotiations for an Association Agreement
The European Commission, negotiating on behalf of the European Union, and Central America  will meet in Brussels from 14 to 18 July 2008 for a fourth round of negotiations in view of an Association Agreement between the two regions. The objective is to conclude during 2009 a comprehensive Agreement, which will enhance the political dialogue between both regions, intensify the cooperation in a vast variety of areas and create a free area between the EU and Central America. About 300 delegates and civil society actors from Central America will be traveling to Brussels.
At the eve of these negotiations, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, European Commissioner for External Relations and Neighbourhood Policy, said: “When we met our Central American counterparts during the Lima Summit, we confirmed our joint objective of making substantial progress in the negotiations in order to allow their conclusion in 2009. Expectations are high for this fourth round and both sides worked hard to make it successful. I am confident that our negotiators will make progress on all three pillars - political dialogue, cooperation and trade - so as to lay solid foundations for the future Agreement that will make our two regions stronger to face global challenges." And she added: "I am pleased to note that the round will allow for in depth exchanges on the process of regional integration in Central America and that the delegates will assess in particular the steps needed to enable the functioning of the Agreement on a region-to-region basis”
Three previous rounds took place in San José (October 2007), Brussels (February 2008) and San Salvador (April 2008) and two others are envisaged before the end of the year.
João Aguiar Machado, Deputy Director General for Asia and Latin America of the Directorate General for External Relations of the European Commission, and the Central America negotiators for the different chapters (El Salvador on behalf of the region) will hold a press conference on Friday 18 July at 12.30 in the Conference Centre Borschette (Froissard 36, 1000 Brussels). Journalists wanting to attend this press conference need to contact Anja Fiedler (email@example.com; 02-29.80385).
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 Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, and Panama as observer.