News / 11 October 2011

Pit stop Swedish activists on their way to Brussels

All the way from Sweden, packed in a van, nine activists travelled to Brussels to raise awareness on the negative impact of European Partnership Agreements (EPAs) between EU and ACP countries for local communities in Africa. According to NGO Afrikagrupperna, based in Stockholm, this was a good conclusion of the campaign they conducted in Sweden these last months.


On their way, the group made a stop-over at Both Ends to share its concerns. Equal partnership between the EU and the ACP countries - mostly poor countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific - is an illusion simply because of the huge differences in development, Afrikagrupperna believes. Burghard Ilge of Both ENDS agrees. Moreover, the deadline for signing the agreement was recently set two years from now. Way too soon, says Ilge. 'The impact of EPAs on communities and the environment at local level are far from adequately examined. African countries are being pressured to comply.'


The imbalanced relations between the EU and the ACP countries, and the strong competition that will arise if the proposed agreement becomes a reality, hinder sustainable economic development and people's access to natural resources. After their pit stop in Amsterdam, Afrikagrupperna presented the nearly 4,000 signatures they gathered at home to point out these issues to Swedish representatives in Brussels. Furthermore, they participated in discussion groups organised by NGOs such as CONCORD.


With this action, the group hopes to set their objections on the political agenda. 'The EPAs will become a reality, that's for sure,' Janne Nordstedt, president of the group, believes, 'but we must ensure that the EU takes the interests of vulnerable groups and their environment into account.'


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