EU calls for new trade deals with Andean countries
Posted 5h 24m ago
STRASBOURG, France (AP) — The European Union wants to complete new trade
and cooperation agreements with the Andean countries and the MERCOSUR
trading bloc next year, officials said Wednesday.
The progress of negotiations will be discussed at next month's summit of
EU, Latin American and Caribbean leaders in Lima, Peru, said EU
Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot.
"We would like to reach a conclusion to that procedure in 2009," Barrot
told the European Parliament during a debate on summit issues. He spoke
on behalf of the EU executive.
The May 16-17 summit will focus on poverty, the economy, migration and
climate change. The EU will push for Latin American countries to adopt
stricter policies to combat climate change, saying that poor, and
especially indigenous populations, are the first to suffer from a
EU lawmakers also demanded the fate of Colombian rebel-held hostage
Ingrid Betancourt is discussed.
"Ingrid Betancourt must be released. All the other hostages must be
released," said Martin Schulz of Germany, leader of the European Socialists.
Negotiations for a deal on closer cooperation with the MERCOSUR nations
— Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay — started in 2000. Talks with
the Andean countries, which want any agreement to go beyond trade to
include social and technological cooperation, have also dragged on.
Peru has suggested a free trade pact with the EU excluding the other
members of the Andean Community bloc — Colombia, Ecuador and Bolivia —
claiming that the anti-free-trade stances of leftist governments of
Bolivia and Ecuador are holding up a deal.
EU Lawmakers also asked for the political situation in Cuba to be
debated at the summit but the Slovenian EU presidency said the issue
will not be on the agenda.
However, a Slovenian official said EU foreign ministers will debate the
recent political changes in Cuba at their meeting in June.
"I hope this will lead to a new common position on Cuba," Janez
Lenarcic, Slovenia's State Secretary for European Affairs.
The EU's top development aid official has already said he would work to
persuade EU members to drop remaining diplomatic sanctions against the
communist island, after Fidel Castro handed power to his younger brother.