Brussels, 14 December 2011 - The European Commission welcomes today’s decision of the EU Foreign Affairs Council to authorise the opening of trade negotiations with Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia as soon as the necessary preparatory process is completed. This decision provides the European Commission with a mandate to start negotiations to establish deep and comprehensive free trade areas (DCFTAs). Compared to the current trade relationship between the EU and these countries, the DCFTAs will go beyond removing only tariffs to cover all regulatory issues relevant to trade, such as investment protection and public procurement.
"We are offering Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia progressive economic integration into the EU single market and want to improve the conditions for market access to the EU for these four WTO members as they engage in a process of democratic and economic reform." said EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht. "Our door is open for other Southern Mediterranean partners once the same conditions are met."
The future deep and comprehensive free trade areas will be part of the existing Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreements, and will cover a full range of regulatory areas of mutual interest, such as trade facilitation, technical barriers to trade, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, investment protection, public procurement and competition policy. The different economic development and regulatory priorities of our Southern Mediterranean partners will be taken into account during the negotiations.
The opening of trade negotiations aims at improving market access opportunities and the investment climate in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia. They also support economic reforms undertaken in these four countries.
In the context of these negotiations, the EU will also pay particular attention to measures which can enhance regional economic integration, and in particular the process launched among these four Southern Mediterranean partners in the framework of the Agadir Agreement, a free trade agreement between Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia.
Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia are WTO members and have already been implementing free trade areas with the EU through the Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreements in the past years. These agreements, which cover essentially trade in goods, are being or have been complemented with a number of additional negotiations in the areas of liberalisation of agriculture, processed agriculture or fisheries products, liberalisation of trade in services and establishment, establishing bilateral dispute settlement mechanisms for trade matters and conformity assessment and acceptance of industrial products.
Therefore the main objective of the future negotiations of deep and comprehensive free trade areas is the progressive integration of the economies of these partners into the EU single market.
The EU will also support capacity building linked on the negotiation and implementation of future commitments undertaken by our partners in the deep and comprehensive free trade areas.
The commitment of each of these partners to implement far-reaching regulatory approximation and their interests and priorities in the future negotiations will be assessed on a case-by-case basis during a thorough preparatory process which will be launched in early 2012.