WHO are the key actors involved?

In the negotiations, the ECOWAS Commission, in collaboration with the UEMOA Commission, represent West Africa. The European Commission represents the European Union.

The negotiations structure was set out in the road map of the WA/EU EPA Negotiations, which was adopted in Accra in 2003. The negotiations are held at three levels: Experts, Senior Officials and Chief Negotiators. The meetings are organized alternatively in Brussels and West Africa.

Participants for the meeting of Experts are either specialists on the specific subjects debated or senior-level officials from the three Commissions (ECOWAS, UEMOA and EU) and their respective Member States.  Representatives of the civil society, NGOs and the private sector are also invited to the meetings.  The conclusions at the meeting of experts, and particularly the unresolved matters, are sent to the meeting of senior officials.

At the senior officials level, West Africa is represented by the ECOWAS Commissioner for Trade, Customs and Free Movement.  He is assisted by the UEMOA Commissioner for Regional Market, Trade, Competition and Cooperation.  For the European Union, the Director of Trade leads the European Commission delegation.  The meeting of senior officials is convened when sufficient progress has been made at the meeting of experts.  Senior Officials are responsible for fixing the time-table and mandate of thematic technical groups of experts, evaluate their progress and achievements, adopt provisional conclusions and give account to the Chief Negotiators.

The Presidents of the ECOWAS and UEMOA Commissions are the heads of delegation of the Chief Negotiators of the RNC for the West African region. The EU’s Commissioner for Trade is the EC’s Head of Delegation.  The fundamental role of the Chief Negotiators is to adopt the conclusions of negotiations and issue policy guidelines for the subsequent phases of negotiations.

Other structures exists such as the Ministerial Monitoring Committee, Contact Group, and Regional Preparatory Task Force.