A Spanish led European Union delegation to Colombia has offered strong support for the pending FTA between the Andean nation and the EU, Caracol Radio reported Thursday.
Spanish Member of the European Parliament (MEP) and chief of the European delegation, Jose Manuel Garcia, recently completed an investigative tour of several Colombian cities, following which he claimed that if the EU’s parliament were to vote on the FTA now, the agreement would have sufficient support to become law.
Garcia’s comments are based on receiving the support of various pro-FTA groups within the European Parliament, including the European Peoples’ Party, of which he himself is a member, the Progressive Conservative party (dominated mainly by British Conservatives) and the Socialists. He did however acknowledge that not all Socialists are supportive of the proposed agreement.
The recent trip to Colombia included meetings with President Juan Manuel Santos as well as various governmental authorities and social organizations with the aim of learning more more about the situation in the country, including the business environment and the security climate.
In summary, Garcia said that he believes that the few remaining economic barriers to the FTA, such as agreeing to a standardized way to market imported liquor, will resolve themselves once the agreement is ratified.
In terms of the political barriers to the FTA’s ratification, the MEP was also extremely positive. Following the visit Garcia confirmed that “we (the delegation) have seen enormous progress in the areas of human rights and the protection of union members”, both key criteria for the ratification of the agreement with the EU.
Garcia furthermore praised Colombia’s land restitution process, and gave special mention to the government’s work with respect to the protection of human rights.
The delegation also stressed the positive impact the FTA would have both in Colombia and in Europe. Commercial representative for the EU delegation, Gonzalo Formy, noted that the agreement will provide those involved with more liberal access to products such as “powdered milk and fatty cheeses,” reiterating previous statements highlighting the FTA’s goals of lowering tarrifs to broaden access to imported goods.
The EU’s ambassador in Colombia, Fernando Cardeza, explained that in addition to increased mutual economic benefits, the proposed FTA will also help participants to share legislative, judicial and governmental ideas.
Although the initial indications are of an extremely positive EU delegation visit to Colombia, Formy did admit that the FTA could be suspended in the event that human rights violations continue to take place in Colombia.
The pending agreement still requires approval from the EU’s Council of Ministers and European Parliament before it can be ratified. According to news website Terra, the European Parliament will start reviewing the details of the proposed agreement in June.