SP Member of Parliament in Brussels protest against free trade agreements

28 September 2007

SP Member of Parliament in Brussels protest against free trade agreements

Member of Parliament and SP development spokesman Ewout Irrgang took part yesterday in a protest action in front of the European Commission headquarters in Brussels. The action was aimed at the free trade agreements which the European Union is attempting to foist on a number of former European colonies in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific, the so-called ACP countries. The demonstration was part of a coordinated series of actions internationally, including one in front of the national parliament building in The Hague.

The free trade accords, known as Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs), form in the SP's view a major threat to the development of numerous extremely poor ex-colonies. A good illustration of what these countries can expect was recently shown on Dutch television when a popular current affairs programme, 'Netwerk', reported on the destruction of the livelihoods of African producers of chickens and tomatoes. “Because these countries are forced by EPAs to scrap import duties and open their markets in a quite drastic fashion," Irrgang explains, "they are deprived of much-needed revenues and flooded with subsidised agricultural products dumped there by the EU."

Irrgang is also critical of the agreements for putting these countries' food security in jeopardy. The EPAs stand in this respect in direct conflict with the Millennium Development Goals aimed at combating poverty. “Given the Dutch government's declared desire to play a leading role in the fight against international poverty," he says, "it cannot logically vote for the EU's present proposals. Free trade is not fair trade when the power of the trading partners is so unequal. The Netherlands must put the argument for an alternative, one which would pay more attention to the development needs of the countries in question."

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