The European Commission negotiates EPAs with 7 (initially 6) different ACP regions.
Two negotiation phases existed: first the “all ACP-EU” phase, involving technicians, ambassadors and ministers from all ACP and EU member countries, to discuss general issues in 2002. Then, in the “region by region” phase of the negotiation process that followed in 2003, the EU has been discussing the actual content of the EPAs with each of the 6 (later 7) ACP regional groupings. ACP countries can choose in which regional grouping they negotiate their EPA, depending on their regional integration objectives.
At the beginning of talks on regional level, the two sides agree on a roadmap setting out the main goals and principles of the negotiations. Due to time constraints and a range of contested issues negotiations of the EPAs took longer than had been expected and were extended beyond the initial end on 31 December 2007. Shorty before this deadline some individual countries and subregions initialed a temporary interim EPA with the EU, but continued negotiations towards full regional EPAs. A new deadline was set for the 31 December 2013.
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