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Sign on: "We demand the European Union and the Governments of Peru and Colombia not to desintegrate the Andean Community of Nations (CAN)"

November 2008

Due to the decision of the European Commission, Colombia and Peru to stop block-to-block negotiations and instead go for bilateral free trade agreements, which we fear will prompt a de facto split of the Andean Community (CAN), members of the Hemispheric Social Alliance (HSA) and the Europe-Latin America and Caribbean Bi-regional network Enlazando Alternativas prepared a Declaration demanding the European Union and the Governments of Peru and Colombia not to desintegrate the Andean Community of Nations.

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DECLARATION: "We demand the European Union and the Governments of Peru and Colombia not to desintegrate the Andean Community of Nations (CAN)"

We, social movements and civil society organisations of Europe, Latin America and elsewhere in the world, express our profound concern at the decision of the European Commission — on behalf of the European Union (EU) and its 27 member states, Colombia and Peru, to negotiate bilateral trade agreements, which we fear will prompt a de facto split of the Andean Community (CAN).

The hypocrisy of the European Commission

The European Commission (EC) has failed in its mandate to negotiate on a bloc-to-bloc basis as some Andean countries resisted its extreme neo-liberal framework, outlined in the EC’s trade and investment strategy “Global Europe: Competing in the world.” To conceal its failure, yet still achieve its Global Europe strategy, the EC has decided to pursue the negotiation of bilateral free trade agreements with Colombia and Peru, which it proposes to sign in 2009.

The Commission has declared again and again that the promotion of “regional integration” is one of the priorities of the EU, and that the strengthening and promotion of the Andean integration process was one of the objectives of the so-called Association Agreement with CAN. In deciding instead to pursue bilateral negotiations with Peru and Colombia, the EC’s hypocrisy is exposed. Its stated support for regional integration was useful, only insofar as it facilitates trade and investment liberalisation.

In December 2006, the European Commissioner of International Relations, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, stated: “I want to stress that the aim of this agreement (between the EU and CAN), as well as the spirit of the negotiation to precede it, is and has to be in the interest of both sides. The Association neither makes sense nor has any future if it is created at the expense of one of the sides .” Certainly, the negotiation of the EU-CAN Association Agreement does not make any sense if it has been carried at the expense of CAN integration itself, and in particular at the expense of those countries whose governments, Bolivia and Ecuador, propose a different bi-regional relation with the EU.

Uribe and Garcia: selling out their countries to the European transnationals in detriment of regional integration and against the will of their people

The governments of Colombia and Peru have repeatedly turned their backs on the process of regional integration. Since the signing of free trade agreements with the United States, both Presidents Alvaro Uribe and Alan Garcia have done everything possible to subordinate regional integration priorities to meeting the demands of the super powers. They have opted indeed for a subservient position in the face of neoliberal globalisation and its free trade agreements, and of submissiveness to the interests of transnational corporations.

In the case of the negotiations with the EU, the governments of Colombia and Peru have consistently expressed their preference for bilateral rather than block-to-block negotiations. It is appalling that in the current context of multiple crises affecting the region, which make regional solidarity more important than ever, Colombia and Peru are prepared to pursue their elites’ own self interest, subordinate themselves to the policies of the European Union, and in the process wipe CAN off the map. They are putting Bolivia’s efforts at poverty eradication in dire jeopardy, and are ignoring the will of the people within their own countries, who have strongly objected to the negotiation and signing of a free trade agreement with the European Union.

The agreement between the EU and the Colombian and Peruvian governments to pursue negotiations bilaterally is nefarious in going against the interests of the people of both regions, undermining efforts at a more democratic and people-centred regional integration, and as such constitutes a serious anti-democratic precedent. The EU’s hypocrisy is further underlined by the fact that the EC is choosing to ignore the fact that Colombia is notorious for grave human rights abuses and has the highest rate of assassination of union leaders in the world, and that the Peruvian government pursues continuous repressive policies towards indigenous and other popular movements.

Given the convergence of acute global crises (financial, economic, food, energy and environmental), which can squarely be blamed on irresponsible neo-liberal policies, a radical rethink of the global economic model is more crucial than ever. The positions of Europe, Colombia and Peru do nothing less than condemn ever more people to greater impoverishment.

The European Commission will conclude its mandate in June 2009. This is the opportunity to ensure there is a decisive change in approach. We demand now that the EU abandons its aggressive neo-liberal policies, which sink millions of people deeper into poverty, leading to their jobs being lost and their livelihoods threatened, while their environment and access to public services continue to deteriorate.

Our demands

We, the undersigned members of the Hemispheric Social Alliance, the Europe-Latin America and the Caribbean Bi-regional Network ‘Enlazando Alternativas’, and social movements and civil society organisations of Europe, Latin America and the rest of the world:

- The divisive manoeuvring of the European Commission, employing manipulative and strong-armed methods, which will lead to the weakening and eventual disintegration of the Andean Community.
- The imposition by the EU of neo-liberal strategies of trade and investment deregulation, at any cost
- The governments of Peru and Colombia, which are willing to sacrifice the future of their people for the benefit of local elites and the European transnationals.

- The negotiation and signing of a Free Trade Agreement between CAN and the European Union, which is deceptively called an “Association Agreement” and couched in terms of “cooperation” and “political dialogue”.

- That the EU stops negotiating Free Trade Agreements on the basis of the EU mandate “Global Europe: Competing in the world” and the rules of the World Trade Organisation.
- That the EU, Peru and Colombia commit to a complete re-definition of trade policies, such that they give priority to social justice, environmental sustainability, as well as labour and human rights (including those of women) in EU and CAN countries.
- That the EU, Peru and Colombia grant transparency to trade policy procedures, promoting accountability and democratic scrutiny through parliament and civil society.
- That the governments of Peru and Colombia respect the agreements reached within CAN and that they immediately return to dialogue within CAN.
- That the European Union respects the “bloc-to-bloc” negotiations with CAN and that it stops its negotiations of bilateral agreements with Colombia and Peru.
- That the EU, Peru and Colombia do not destroy one of the oldest regional integration processes on the American continent, that of the Andean Community (CAN), already weakened by the persistence of some governments in pursuing complete liberalisation.

- We call on all the social, political and popular organisations, male and female workers, migrants, indigenous and peasant communities, the women, youth and trade union movements of Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe and the world to take a stand and mobilise against the negotiations of Free Trade Agreements with the European Union.

To sign the Declaration, please send name of organisation, and country/region to Cecilia Olivet: [email protected] until Thursday 27 November 2008.

To see the SIGNATURES SO FAR click here

 source: Enlanzando alternativas