The European Commission has approved the European Union’s free trade agreement with Colombia and Peru, international media reported.
The agreement will now be passed to the European Council and Parliament for final ratification. “I can confirm that the FTA with Colombia and Peru has been approved by the college of commissioners,” a source told Spanish news agency EFE. The adoption of a proposal by the college of commissioners signals the end of the first of three stages of being passed into E.U. law.
Next Monday EU Trade ministers will analyze the accord. European Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said it is hoped that this FTA will go into effect in the second half of 2012 and will increase the GDP of Colombia and Peru by 1%.
The FTA will eliminate tariffs on all industrial and fishery products, widen access to the market of agricultural products, improve access to public contracts, services and investment markets, reduce technical obstacles to trade and establish common controls in relation to intellectual property rights.
The agreement includes a clause for the protection of human rights and the rule of law, as well as commitments to effectively apply international conventions related to labor rights and protection of the environment.
In November 2009, 12 members of the European Parliament requested that the EU not sign the FTA with Colombia on account of the country’s poor human rights record, especially in relation to trade unionists.
Earlier this month Interior Minister German Vargas Lleras visited EU officials to explain that Colombia has made progress in respect to human rights.
In May 2010, Colombian dairy farmers demonstrated against the FTA, which they said could put as many as 400,000 dairy farming families out of work.