Urge your MEPs to halt damaging trade deal with southern Africa

Trade deals with countries in the global South stress liberalisation and threaten to damage economies and workers’ rights

UNISON is urging members to urge their MEPs to reject EU plans to foist more trade liberalisation on the global south – in deals that could be a template for a post-Brexit UK.

The European Parliament will debate an economic partnership agreement or EPA with South Africa, Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho, Namibia and Mozambique on 14 September.

Such agreements are controversial free trade deals negotiated between the EU and 76 African, Caribbean and Pacific countries.

The European Commission says they help end poverty and boost sustainable development, regional integration and good governance.

But many governments, trade unions and civil society groups believe they do the opposite, damaging economies, environments and employees’ rights by making producers compete with multinational corporations.

Several countries have refused to sign the deals because they are worried that EPAs damage their economies.

The European Commission is now threatening middle-income countries that refuse to sign that they will see their preferential access to EU markets removed if they fail to take the “necessary steps towards ratification” by 1 October.

The UK remains a full member of the EU for the time being, with a full say in decision making – including on EPAs. But its future trade relationship with the EU and its status in the World Trade Organisation are uncertain.

EPAs set a precedent for future trade deals and the UK may well seek similar damaging agreements with African, Caribbean and Pacific countries once it has left the EU – particularly Commonwealth counties where there is often an existing relationship.

Please email or write to your MEP asking them to reject the EPA with southern Africa . You can either write your own message or adapt the model letter or email below.

You can find the contact details of your regional MEPs at europarl.org.uk/en/your-meps.html.

Please forward any response to i.relations@unison.co.uk.