Colombia and Peru on June 26 signed a trade agreement with the European Union, but the continental bloc is calling for the Andean nations to improve human rights and environmental protections.
The Multi-Party Commercial Agreement, a type of free trade agreement, was signed after two years of negotiations. The Andean Community bloc had begun talks with the EU in March 2007, but Ecuador and Bolivia pulled out, alleging that the agreement was against their nations’ interests.
While the agreement could come into force as early as October if the European Parliament ratifies it, lawmakers there are demanding Colombia and Peru take more concrete steps to enforce environmental and human rights standards.
According to the 2012 Environmental Performance Index, a joint project of Yale and Columbia Universities, Peru has failed to protect its forestland and water resources.
European lawmakers in a June 13 resolution said that the onus is on the two Andean countries because the trade agreement does not require standards on these issues.
Groups such as the Latin American Association of Development Promotion Organizations, the Grupo Sur and the International Office for Human Rights-Action on Colombia, criticized that the lawmakers in Europe are not asking for obligatory measures to guarantee sustainable development.
In a joint statement, these groups said that a framework to ensure environmental and human rights protection is insufficient to “respond to European, Colombian and Peruvian civil society’s concerns” and that it “makes the same error” in the free trade agreement between Colombia and the United States, which took effect May 15, because it does not establish standards for these issues.
Alejandra Alayza, head of the Peruvian Network for Globalization with Equality, criticized President Ollanta Humala, who campaigned last year against free trade agreements but now “has given up his proposal for social inclusion in trade policy.”